Monday, January 13, 2014

"Paradise: Hope" rounds out a curious Austrian triology

Paradise: Hope” ("Paradies: Hoffnung") is the last of the trilogy for domestic films by Ulrich Seidl.
For this slow-movement finale, mother (on the way to Kenya, as in the first film) leaves her teen daughter (Melanie Lenz) at a posh summer camp in Austria for overweight teenagers.  (In the second film, the aunt had proselytized Catholicism.)   
The facility is run by a slender 50-year-old doctor (Joseph Lorenz).  Through some “innocent” medical encounters, Melanie starts falling in love with him.  He has to deal with his “guilt”.
The film hits the road only once, when the kids go out to a bar (illegally), and two men their take advantage of her.  One of the you men says, “You like them chubby”, and the effect is rather silly.
The camp shows the kids lining up for calisthenics – the doctor talks about “discipline”, almost with Nazi values.  The boys are apparently shirtless, but it is hard to tell whether they are not girls themselves.  One scene reminded me of my first draft physical back in 1964.  The film is a test of our attitude toward others.
The official site for the trilogy is here

I have to say that the concept of a camp for unfit teenagers reminds me of a concept in some of my own novel manuscripts, a re-education" Academy" for those spoiled yuppies displaced from the job market. I've pondered it since the days of hostile takeovers in the late 1980s/
I reviewed the film from a private Vimeo screener from Strand Releasing, which had cropped the film to a narrower aspect ratio. The DVD is available Jan. 14.  I saw an entry for a "free" full film on YouTube which I believe would probably not be legal.  

Picture: Mine (near Baltimore, MD).  

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