I am obsessed with the eccentric director Ulrich Seidl. He is Austria’s equivalent to the blatantly creepy American filmmaker Todd Solondz. The Paradise Trilogy, a portrait of three women related by blood, is deliberately slow and includes ten-minute static scenes with mundane dialogue. But every moment feels honest, absorbing and occasionally funny. Paradise Hope, set in a militant Austrian diet camp is anything but hopeful, as a chubby adolescent girl falls for a middle aged doctor. Paradise Love features an overweight sexually ravenous Austrian cougar on vacation in Kenya. Paradise Faith, the most riveting of the three, tells the story of a dowdy middle-aged female evangelist who has romantic sexual feelings for Christ.
The exquisite cinematography is minimalist and the masterful art direction, especially in the diet camp, has a cold war East European sensibility. These critically acclaimed films are polarizing, as Seidl
is an acquired taste, so if you are expecting an uplifting experience, with a moralistic tale, look elsewhere. Seidl’s bleak and intimate portrait of three women is not searching for solutions to misplaced morals. However, it delivers unvarnished honesty and therein lies it’s beauty.
The Paradise Trilogy is available on Netflix US.
still taken from Paradise: Love