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Paradies: Liebe (Paradise: Love) by Ulrich Seidl

December 28, 2013


It is  a known tale, Paradies was not born to be a trilogy, it was only after the end of the shooting that Ulrich Seidl realized that there was too much good material to cut if he was going to blend the three stories into a single film, so he went for the trilogy: once you watch the three films you will suddenly realize that the above mentioned tale tells the truth only about the Love chapter, nonetheless I believe getting a single film would have conferred more power to each one of the stories, blending multiple stories had been the trademark of Seidl’s career until now and I consider it an excellent format for his films so full of analytical study of European society and the condition of the humans who live in it but at the same time they are so full of irony and compassion, exploring and exposing the contradictions of our time. Blending multiple stories had expanded the scope – had given room to breath – of Dog Days and Import/Export, Paradies – split into three films – has left most of the irony to Love, most of the desperation to Faith and most of the claustrophobia to Hope: the emotional and thematic balance Seidl had achieved with his previous feature works is lacking here, but at the same time I have liked Paradies: Liebe a lot and here is why.


Teresa (Margarethe Tiesel) leaves her daughter to the cares of an obesity clinic (it will be the story of Hope) and her cat to her friend Anna Maria (who will be the protagonist of Faith) and goes to Kenya on vacation: searching for love. Sexual tourism was at the center of Vers le Sud (Heading South) by Laurent Cantet and the different way the two directors have approached the theme is made clear when we consider the choice of their lead actresses: eight years ago Cantet went with Charlotte Rampling (star power and still a desirable woman even in her fifties) Seidl has chosen an obese and unknown Austrian actress. Seidl’s choice is more realistic – let’s face it: the looks of most Western women are more similar to Tiesel’s than Rampling’s – but Seidl is the winner not because of realism: though the situation allowed a caricature effect the Austrian director has managed to give a lot of sense to Teresa, sooner or later during the viewing you will realize that no matter if she is fat or ridiculous she is just a lonely person who doesn’t know how to ¨Love¨ anymore or what ”Love” is – we realize that in our interaction with a Kenyan we would encounter her same troubles, different cultures unable to communicate and alleviate each other’s pain through broken English and goods exchange.

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