The Paradise [Mahmoodreza Esmaili Zand, Iran, 2019]
Director Mahmoodreza Esmaili Zand brings us a short drama in The Paradise. It is a tale of youth, rebellion and friendship told against the backdrop of the harsh and restrictive upbringing of two young girls.
It is the kind of story that resonates with viewers, especially as one gets the impression this is a personal story for the filmmakers. A scene where the two girls bond with a late night conversation about their lives and their interests is particularly strong in this regard.
Visually, the film is a mixed bag. It unfortunately does not start strong, as the first scene has an unconvincing day-for-night filter applied to it. The intention may be to show the dark state of the protagonist’s mind but, if so, this is not clear enough and the result is visually awkward. On the other hand, the use of colour and light is consistently compelling and the shots of the city at night lend a certain realness to scenes.
The Paradise is – appropriately enough given its title – about longing for a better life, to be in a better place. It is perhaps fitting that for a personal film with many strengths, you may find yourself wishing it were slightly better.
‘The Paradise’ was a film in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2019.