Saturday 13 February 2021

Review: Paradise Cove

 Year: 2021

Director: Martin Guigui

Screenplay: Sherry Klein

Starring: Todd Grinnell, Mena Suvari, Kristin Bauer van Straten


Synopsis is here:

Every so often, a movie will have me thinking about Pauline Kael’s seminal essay about appreciating great trash. Watching Paradise Cove, always makes me wonder what she would think of a film like this or the many similar features like it. These off the beaten track thrillers which love to highlight their gaudy wares at the expense of logical plot.

This is the sort of Yuppies-in-hell type of movie that does not seem to be much of. Inequality is through the roof. People buy homes less to live but to profit from. Late-stage capitalism has left many in despair. It is the perfect time to update Pacific Heights (1990). Paradise Cove holds none of the financial muscle of John Schlesinger’s movie, but it should not need to. What Paradise Cove has going for it is relevancy. Its dog-eat-dog story brings a certain amount of connectivity to an audience. To have such a topic thrown into such an over-the-top thriller is usually enjoyable.

That said, Paradise Cove is seriously lacking in the type of craftsmanship which could turn it into an enjoyable pulp smothered tale. It is a film which lacks the guts or coherence to be as interesting as it could have been. Hampered by poor pacing, cardboard flat performances, and a patchy narrative which needed to be tidied up in the pre-production stage it is a film which far too happily enjoys its contrivance. Better films can often have its audience asking the same questions that one may do here. But Paradise Cove is deficient in having the ability to distract its audience. It would perhaps be beneficial if the film had characters who worth investing in.

Watching a young couple being terrorised by a disturbed, homeless women could be an intriguing premise if the screenplay cared about any of the people at play. However, Paradise Cove is a place where every person is annoyingly uncompelling and profoundly unsympathetic. A couple who seems uninterested in the memories within the house they cannot wait to flip. They go up against a middle-aged vagrant, whose tragic backstory never feels strong enough to tolerate her causal slip into needless violence. The film’s habit of playing fast and loose with plot strands, along with some tone-deaf characterisation ensures that none of these characters provides empathy.

The annoying thing is when you have the likes of Mena Suvari in the casting roster, you should allow her to be more than a shrill, hysterical wife. It is a role with no agency or sympathy and some of the most egregious pieces of dialogue. So much of what this character says makes whatever plight this couple may have unappealing. Kristin Bauer van Straten has a better time with things. Her performance as a jilted housewife is at one which knows what type of movie this could have been.

Unfortunately, this is not about what the film could have been, but what the film is. Folks like me may get a kick out of the unintentionally humorous set pieces and plot points that seemingly go nowhere (that shower sequence does what for the film exactly?). However, for those who are looking for a thriller with more…well thrill, it may be worth heading elsewhere.