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Paradise Hills

Rich young women are meant to train to conform on “Paradise“ island, but Uma (Emma Roberts) and her friends suspect something even more evil is at play.


An Edwardian raised collar, puffy sleaves, a 50s petticoat with a leader bondage corset over it, all in white. That‘s the uniform of the young women who are going through a type of conformity training which doesn‘t seem very effective on the strange “Paradise“ island. They braid floral wreaths, talk to the mirror, and are shown propaganda clips in a loop while being shackled on a rocking horse. PARADISE HILLS, the US produced debut film by Spanish director Alice Waddington has fantastic set design, very original costumes, a somewhat feminist message for girls (stick together!), dozens of good ideas, and an impressive cast. However, Waddington‘s film has just as many problems as it does ideas. The steam punk parallel universe the film is set in is barely developed except fo the division between the rich “uppers“ and the poor “lowers.“ The stories of Uma, who is meant to be brought to the island in order to accept a horrible husband, and her friends who are meant to be reprogrammed in different ways, don‘t get off the ground. The very cool actor troupe, like Milla Jovovich‘s island ruler “Duchess,“ and the very hip rappers Akwafina and Danielle McDonald (PATTY CAKE$), stand and sit around, search for their characters, and seem to be waiting for the moments when they can act. A twist towards the end explains why the “therapy“ seems so boring, but it doesn‘t save the film, rather revealing it to be a conservative rich girl angst fantasy. After her original short (DISCO INFERNO, 2015) it was clear that Waddington could create a chic look for a film. However, when it comes to directing the actors, the script, and the dramaturgy, there‘s room for improvement.


Translation: Elinor Lewy


Spanien 2019, 94 min
Language: English
Genre: Drama, Science Fiction
Director: Alice Waddington
Author: Brian DeLeeuw, Nacho Vigalondo, Alice Waddington
DOP: Josu Inchaustegui
Music: Lucas Vidal
Distributor: Kinostar Filmverleih
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Emma Roberts, Danielle MacDonald, Awkwafina, Jeremy Irvine
FSK: 12
Release: 29.08.2019


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