The film begins with a scene that shows Theresa supervising a group of mentally-challenged children as they entertain themselves on a bumper car ride. It is the type of scene that insights shameful laughter, perfectly setting up the tone of the rest of the film. Teresa needs a break from her life, so she packs her bags for Holiday and heads to Kenya. From her immediate arrival it is apparent that this is a beautiful place to spend relaxing in the sun but it's also known throughout the region for it's large sex trade tourism industry. Ulrich Seidl's Paradise: Love is certainly a provocative film exploring the sex trade tourism which takes place in Africa but it certainly isn't an exploitative piece of filmmaking like some seem to proclaim. Like almost all of Seidl's films, Paradise: Love feels more like a documentary than a narrative feature, blurring the line between the two. Seidl doesn't demonize these woman, rather Teresa's encounters with these various men are surprisingly endearing. Teresa is someone who is seeking more than just carnal desires and the film does a good job of showcasing her desire for companionship just as much as erotic pleasure. In Teresa's case, this concept is strengthened even more later in the film when we see the sadness she has after her daughter doesn't call her for her birthday. While sex and race are a major theme of the film, Paradise: Love is really more a commentary on Colonialism. These African men rely so heavily on these woman for money almost as if they expect it for no other reason then the fact they have been conditioned to think like this through years of colonialism- relying on these woman to fulfill their needs. This two viewpoints constantly conflict with each other which often leads to eventual conflict and/or misunderstanding. As one would expect from a Ulrich Seidl film, Paradise: Love is beautifully photographed with fantastic compositions but the way the film uses visuals to show these barriers is exceptional. Some obvious (the roped off areas of the beach), and some subtle (the bar where the two white woman chat with the bartender), the film conveys the barriers which exist between these two cultures, particularly in terms of colonialism. Paradise: Love is at times humorous, touching, repulsive, and sad, and while it certainly isn't a film for everyone, it is a thought-provoking experience.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.