Teresa, a fifty-year-old Austrian mother, travels to the paradise of the beaches of Kenya, seeking out love from African boys. But she must confront the hard truth that on the beaches of Kenya, love is a business.
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This is a film about the 'students ball' in Horn, the little Austrian town Seidl grew up. The movie portraits the young débutantes as well as the local notables, all of them eagerly involved in maintaining the stiff and stifling ritual.
On the beaches of Kenya they're known as "Sugar Mamas" -- European women who seek out African boys selling love to earn a living. Teresa, a fifty-year-old Austrian and mother of a daughter entering puberty, travels to this vacation paradise. She goes from one beach boy to the next, from one disappointment to the next and finally she must recognize: On the beaches of Kenya, love is a business.Written by
After watching the first part of Ulrich Seidl's PARADISE trilogy you just have to answer to one question to know whether this Austrian director is doing worth watching material or not – "would I like to watch the second part?" And well, I would. There's really nothing quite like this film, for better or worse; although some of themes it touches aren't something we couldn't find elsewhere. It's about a woman, or better said women in their fifties or something who aren't happy – they have never been satisfied with the way they look and with their whole love life.
The first unusual thing is the setting: the African country Kenya. To call this some sort of definitive look at the culture of Kenya would be simplify things very much. It's really just a look at the Kenya that's close to the tourists. Nevertheless is a very rich film for that matter, with a quick learning of part of the culture – it's funny that we get to learn some African phrases that most likely, well one in specific, will make you remember Disney's THE LION KING!
The reason we don't see much of Kenya is that our main character Teresa (Margarethe Tiesel) is the representation of a tourist who's not traveling just to know a different part of the world but to find a new part of herself (and to do that she doesn't need to go very far from her hotel). PARADISE: LOVE is one of those films that constantly make you feel sorry for the respective protagonist. Ulrich definitely succeeded in creating a piece where things aren't totally messed up only superficially. Teresa is leaving her country Austria for the paradise of the title. The paradise refers to both the place and the things she believes is up to: a complete sexual freedom in Africa that ultimately could end in an experimentation of love – love is, unlike in Europe, eternal in Africa, says one of the main Kenyan characters
As you can tell, things aren't going to be as good as planned for Teresa. You may be thinking this is therefore a very sad film with the likes of a Todd Solondz film. After all, we have an upper middle class European woman with overweight continually suffering as sadness and dissatisfaction. Like I said, superficially things aren't quite depressing. PARADISE: LOVE is a women-having-crazy-vacation-fun film too – I'm writing this as a guy in his early twenties but if there's an audience that will "get" the film is definitely women in their forties or something close. What we have here is a very feminine point of view.
Therefore its sexual content is unusual as well – I'm pretty sure this film is one of the most, if not the most explicit one of the year, yet we don't have any intercourse scene. It's a take on male prostitution too – this is why, I think, the explicit material is only there to capture those women's lust and, essentially, idea of a real paradise. In other words: there's a lot of male nudity you've been warned! The film is a deep, and very different sort-of "chick flick"; a sad look at a real issue that sometimes is funny.
*Watched it on 02 December, 2012
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