Paradise: Love

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(2012) ★★★

Film4: PREMIERE Tuesday 01 December, 1.20am

Unsparing Austrian film-maker Ulrich Seidl is the man who made Import/Export so don’t expect any charity in his Love, Faith and Hope trilogy, collected under a beach umbrella unironically daubed ‘Paradise’. But can such desires really be fulfilled without exploitation or self-delusion on this earthly plane? The three stories are linked by two middle-aged Austrian sisters, divorcee Teresa (Margarethe Tiesel) and Anna Maria (Maria Hofstätter), and Teresa’s overweight 13-year-old daughter Melli (Melanie Lenz).

In Love (which should, of course, be called Sex) Teresa leaves Melli with aunt Anna Maria before jetting off for a comfort safari in Mombasa’s Flamingo beach resort. A hotel which has its own zebra-themed houseband, sashaying in like something from a David Lynch nightmare. Set against the Indian Ocean’s alluring azure, Seidl’s artfully framed tableaux come to resemble postcards from purgatory as the ebony-skinned ‘beach boys’ line up for the pasty European ‘sugar mamas’.

Giggling at the barman’s broken English, Teresa’s a handful. A chubby strudel who instructs the attentive Munga (Peter Kazungu) how to handle the merchandise like he’s a customer poking at bruised fruit. A tough cookie who reacts violently to being lied to. She’s the only one permitted to lie, to her own deluded self. Ever hopeful of finding someone who’ll gaze into her eyes and see into her heart and soul.

Happy in the afterglow of sex until the familiar agenda is broached: “I have received a call from my family…” A handful of gimme and a mouthful of much obliged. Love for sale in Kenya. Or Africa as everyone keeps calling it, Sarah Palin-style. Happy holidays! All you need is money. John Waters claimed he laughed like a drain throughout, but then he’s the man who made Pink Flamingos and Polyester.

Certificate: 18

Duration: 116min

IMDB – Paradise: Love

TMDB – Paradise: Love

Rotten Tomatoes – Paradise: Love