Director: Ulrich Seidl
Writer: Ulrich Seidl, Veronika Franz
Cast: Margarete Tiesel, Peter Kazungu, Inge Maux, Gabriel Mwarua, Carlos Mkutano, Maria Hofstätter, Melanie Lenz
Part of: The Paradise Trilogy
Teresa (Margarete Tiesel) leaves her teenaged daughter Melanie (Melanie Lenz) with her friend (Maria Hofstätter) and goes on holiday to Kenya with her friend Inge (Inge Maux). Part of her motivation to go is to find herself a young Kenyan for sex, love and connection. Initially hesitant, she soon does find a guy – Gabriel (Gabriel Mwarua). And then another. But being a Sugar Mama isn’t actually what she’s looking for.
Ugh. Paradies: Liebe is a really good film – which makes it extremely hard to watch. (Which is exactly what you should expect from an Ulrich Seidl movie.) Difficult subject matter, excellent cast and set in scene.
Sometimes I wonder how Ulrich Seidl must see the world and people in general – and why he hasn’t slit his wrists yet. In any case, his movies are full of loneliness and cruelty and people behaving very ugly without seemingly realizing how hurtful they’re being. [And yes, the world is full of that shit, but there’s also beauty and kindness and genuine wonderfulness.] Paradies: Liebe is no exception in that worldview.
Quite to the contrary: it shows you how absolutely despicable humans can be. And that it’s the women doing the objectifying for once only makes it stand out that much more. That and that it’s all protrayed with utter realism and that this kind of sex tourism is on the rise, makes it that much more important to watch this film. It doesn’t make it any easier, though.
Seidl found a really good cast. Especially Margarete Tiesel is amazing. Despite all the crap Teresa does, Tiesel always manages to imbue her with a sense of humanity. You can always sense her frustration and her loneliness and how she sees that as her only chance. The same goes for the guys, too. Despite their situation and the blatant objectification, they are still human and you can’t help but cringe with/for them sometimes.
But through all that harshness, Paradies: Liebe poses interesting, difficult questions. It will be interesting to see the rest of the Paradise trilogy.
Summarising: Recommended, but only if you’re in the mood for a hard movie that’s kind of a downer.