Paradise (2024)


Paradise Review

Max Isaacson, a director and screenwriter from Cambridge, has made his first full-length feature film “Paradise” (2024), in which Patricia Allison plays Ella Patchet, a young person living on an island that could be ours if our love for guns took the form of following Western and duel aesthetics. Her father, Dan Patchet (Bashir Salahuddin) is the sheriff and wants her to lead a more peaceful life. However, when he gets killed she sets out to find who did it and get revenge only to find out more than just his killer’s identity.

Ella is not like other girls and I don’t know how I feel about that because I don’t know if I’m supposed to relate to her or Allison’s performance either or what but also that’s exactly what they want me not to do so it’s fine. I love kick ass women and especially ones that are unlikeable for no good reason. Just because she likes fighting people and threatening to shoot them doesn’t mean she won’t be equally unbothered by causing a blood bath she does though. She never hesitates once between having fun with violence as a hobby and taking it up as serious work. Ella is at her most unfazed when she applies her theoretical reindeer games of gunplay against each other in a high stakes life or death fight for survival.

She starts off thinking her dad never carried a gun so him choosing not to must have gotten someone innocent killed which sends her down the opposite path based on something that happened later in the movie’s mythology where we learn all Patchets are naturally good at fighting which doesn’t quite square with any previous lifetime experience this girl has had being an anomaly let alone rebel against said notion but okay what caused more people die choice acting or? But seriously tho seeing her handle herself well without the gun was pretty tight too but even still watching these sequences over my shoulder just as someone who knows how to watch movies it was frustrating how many times people got the drop on her but I mean she’s new to this so I get it gunslinger. Keep your head up girl!

It seems like according to “Paradise” no one ever thought of Ella as a juvenile delinquent because she never crossed a line even though there were times when it seemed like she might about to and also her father is the sheriff and she hangs out with the mayor’s son Giles Whitney (C.J. Hoff) who is funny in that local drug dealer kind of way lots of colorful phrasing, annoying voice etc. They seem like they’ve been enemies since they were kids or whatever and their relationship journey is probably the one that most closely aligns with what I wanted for where her character would go. Giles starts off being an unrepentant asshole who doesn’t care if he says anything horrible but then feels quite differently once he realizes the unintended impact his ridicule has had on others which still counts as acting like a jerk not necessarily becoming hard person so these are two different things.

Calvin “If it becomes my problem, what do I need you for” (preach) Whitney (Tate Donovan), the mayor, is portrayed as a man trying to turn the island around and save it from an environmental apocalypse. The only crime on this island is occasional bar brawl and kitchen appliance theft; the reports of its decline are greatly exaggerated. But people talk about this place like they’re describing Baltimore from “The Wire,” and I expected that level of criminality. Even though “Paradise” was filmed in Hawaii, it’s unclear if the film takes place there. It takes a while to get used to the rules of this universe, which is just like our world but different than our world. If you want to know more, check out my spoiler-filled Q&A with Isaacson for more juicy details about Ella Patchet’s world. If I had one complaint about the movie, I would’ve liked more details dumped about this world in casual prose because it’s fascinating, well-thought out and coherent but underdeveloped on screen and left up to us.

The negative element comes from outside. There are rumors in the press that drug dealer Lee Page is coming back to town. State police officer Sam Mayo (Adam Lustick) arrives on scene at mayor’s behest to restore law and order but clearly has his own agenda. Lustick does a great job; he keeps us on our toes. When he seems menacing, he’s not, then other times he seems craven and lashes out keep everyone guessing. Mayor Whitney also has another cop working with Mayo named Hobbes (Arjun Gupta). He blindly obeys their orders; he’s not prepared psychologically or emotionally for handling serious crimes none of them are. Hobbs’ character arc was very unpredictable for me, especially his reaction to each twist and turn; one never knew where he stood or what side he was on. Townes (Myles Evans), Ella’s best friend, has Ella’s back. Unlike Ella, he is usually a bystander to the gunslinger pastime not a practitioner so he’s ill-equip mentally and physically to assist, which leads to Ella’s most powerful and emotionally resonant moments.

Paradise” is one of those movies that gets better on repeat viewings, and it looks amazing on the big screen. Isaacson’s color palette is beautiful, compared to his short “Pipe” (2018), which was various shades of grey. My favorite two shots are in the beginning and end. When Ella is going to the gunslinger contest, she descends a staircase with yellow lighting her path, and in the denouement she ascends a staircase with orange yellow lighting as if a sunrise lit interior. The descent is intercut and parallels her father’s moments before assassins kill him it painfully contrasts how for others guns represent toughness and protection while for her they carry no such meaning but should have done so like they did for dad. This coming of age movie finds Ella maturing in her view of violence as useful tool of pride even though she was an adult when everything happened; also if you watch close enough characters often say or do things that portend how they will end up but it’s not until second viewing that this becomes apparent .

If the “Paradise” has its secret weapon, that would be gonzo appearance of Tia Carerre. This is one such performance where she steals the scene and I wish Isaacson, Borden, and Carrere could have gone back in time to make a prequel about her character’s exploits when she was Ella’s age. It’s an earthshaking role in the film and very few people will see it coming. Her character has got some dialogue which Carrere physically interprets in ways that were totally unexpected for me. She is a breath of fresh air as the only grown-up woman among these men who brings sobriety into their frivolous funny unconventionalities, indeed it’s hilarious throughout but still there is one person who manages to steal whole movie within short time And this person is Tia Carrere.


During what point did mayor fool sheriff into believing Lee Paige killed his wife and child if Ella found out about them later on? The most surprising turn of events. Hobbs being hands down worst human being ever created by God or man alike, You know he’s gonna be bad but just wait until you see how evil this guy can get Also I gotta give slow 80s clap of appreciation for Giles having moral compass & sticking with frenemy till end because that dude is real

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