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Austrian screenwriter, producer and director Ulrich Seidl's fifth
feature film which he co-wrote with screenwriter Veronika Franz and
co-produced, is the last part of his loosely theological Paradise
trilogy which was preceded by "Paradise: Love" (2012) and Paradise:
Faith" (2012). It premiered In competition at the 63rd Berlin
International Film Festival in 2013, was shot on location in Austria
and is a Austria-Germany-France co-production which was produced by
producers Philippe Bober and Christine Ruppert. It tells the story
about a 13-year-old girl named Melanie who whilst her mother named
Teresa is on vacation in Kenya is taken to a diet camp by her aunt
named Anna Maria where she befriends a girl named Verena and takes a
liking to a doctor.
Precisely and statically directed by European filmmaker Ulrich Seidl, this quietly paced fictional tale which is narrated from multiple viewpoints though mostly from the main character's point of view, draws a heartrending portrayal of a girl's experiences whilst participating in a residential program. While notable for its naturalistic milieu depictions, distinct production design by production designers Andreas Donhauser and Renate Martin, cinematography by American cinematographer Edward Lachman and Austrian cinematographer Wolfgang Thaler and use of colors, this somewhat character-driven and dialog-driven story about friendship and hope depicts a mindful study of character where the rare humor occurs as a result of the at times rhythmic and subtle continuity.
This humane, involving and somewhat surreal sequel which is set mostly at a weight loss resort in Austria and where an adolescent girl begins looking for the same thing that her mother is looking for in Kenya, is impelled and reinforced by its loose narrative structure, substantial character development, colorful characters, sparse dialog and the reverent and commendable acting performances by actress Melanie Lenz in her debut feature film role, Austrian actor Joseph Lorenz and actress Verena Lehbauer. A minimalistic, characteristic, sociological and atypical coming-of-age drama where Ulrich Seidl's dystopic universe which may not be for all tastes and where he has gone to the extremities of humanity with a bittersweet, realistic and somewhat bleak though far from melancholic point of view comes to an end.
The third and final movie of the 'Paradise' trilogy which sets in the
summer holiday. Just like the previous two movies this one happens to
the parallel timeline but in different locations with different theme
and people. The movie which unfolds the story of 'Hope' of a teen girl
and her summer vacation at weight loss camp. She was left there by her
aunt and before that by her mother in her aunt's house. So all the
three movies were interconnected by the characters from one family. And
this, the last movie of the trilogy briefs the teenagers issues
especially the fat ones and their perspective.
The 13 year old Melanie was sent to the weight loss camp in her summer holiday as per the agreement from her mother. As she joins the others from the camp her innocence seemed to be gone. Unexpectedly she undergoes her first love experience and expects to lose her virginity. On the other side of the story, the friends hangout and partying at late night puts further trouble to her relationship with whom she considered her boyfriend.
This final episode of the trilogy portrayed from a girl's angle which definitely stands as the title promised. The director again did not hesitate to give his new and experimental approach to the problems faced by the people in the contemporary world. His bold attempt is what gave us the three spectacular movies which deals on the different contents and characters. Definitely such movies are not made to make money. But to show the people from different parts of the world about the direction of travelling new culture over the old. These movies are not for entertainment, if you are aware what you watching and what's the purpose of it then you won't be a disappoint much. Like I said three movies, three different locations, three different people and for three different audiences (unless you are a movie buff who watch all the three).
We find out that Anna Maria has a niece and that she is a daughter of
the women sex vacationing in Kenya. So trilogy starts to make sense.
Girls in their teens. The fat once. Fighting with pillows and talking about sex. But then the hairy Guy comes to train them and teach them how to try to loose fat. ;) I think that sending girls to the village is an idiotic thing, but girls who escaped, and went to a night club, dancing girls really gives us HOPE! I find this film weaker link of the other two. Especially the second one. Faith. Glaube. So powerful, that this one looks weaker. But it should not be underestimated. It should be watched together with other two. Very powerful trilogy!
Paradise: Hope is about 13 year old Melanie, which is sent on diet camp
in the Austrian mountains, while her mother is on sex vacation in
The third installment of the Paradise trilogy by Austrian Ulrich Seidl is not as great as the first two think. Still it's both interesting and funny, as an odd view of Austrian life. All film's are connected, as they are all about three persons in the same family, still they can without any problem be seen as individual films. But this, which I find the least interesting, is more interesting, if you think if the trilogy as a whole.
The three film's really worth a good discussion, and for a film club this is really something to enjoy. The films are all very realistic, and all are rising questions, without giving any answers. All the films balances ethical questions. What do we think about this, and that? It could all happen, not only in Austria, but elsewhere as well. Lines to cross, or not. Humans seeking out, trying, doing strange things, searching for either hope, God, emotions, recognition, satisfaction, life, entertainment... We could go on...
It's also interesting, this film as both a trilogy and as in it self, that it balances right and wrong with enjoyment/fun and sadness/tragedy, with seriousness and the comic of it all. It's a slice of life, of struggling with our demons. Seidel balances well. Keeps away from real controversy, but more than once approaches the nasty dilemma, but it's always terminated before it's getting really serious.
All films are kept in the same style, obviously, though filmed in very different environment. Slow, dwelling pictures, but never without any reason. The camera is still, often in a not to distant view, clinical, bleak. Still fresh and actually pastel. Probably not without reason, still not sure why.
Seidel is another very interesting Austrian director, which differs from the lot. Like Haneke he had a very distinct style. Very different from each other, and in a strong filming language. Simply interesting. I'm sure this trilogy will be seen upon as interesting for years to come. Deservedly so.
When this is only getting a 6/10 from me, as opposed to the better ratings for the first two, this is due to the lesser interesting and driving plot. It fades out without giving a real impression, and a small disappointment lingers, since the first was so good. Paradise: Love was interesting in any levels. If thus bad. Er the first, and he first the last, it would have given a greater impact. Maybe that is what Seidl wants us to discover. If I am to watch the three films again, I surely would reverse the trilogy, and try to discover if there's more to it than I saw during the first watch.
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