Paradise: Hope (sneak preview!)

“Fassbinder died, so God gave us Ulrich Seidl.” — John Waters

As Ulrich Seidl concludes his Paradise Trilogy with this third and final installment, he completes a portrait of modern familial femininity with perhaps his most universal work to date. Splitting the difference between Love’s yearning for a safely liberating sexual freedom and Faith’s emotional chaos, Paradise: Hope presents pubescent rebellion à la Seidl: with a simultaneous distance and intimacy befitting the film’s adventures in young love and experimentation. Overweight teen Melanie (daughter of Love‘s Teresa; niece of Faith‘s Anna Maria), sent to a dour fat camp consisting of sterile gymnasiums and bare-bones barracks, seems a typical 13-year-old: drinking, smoking, discovery her sexuality — but as she falls for her much older (and very creepy) physician, her behavior crosses an erratic line in the sand. The most playful and tender of the three films, Hope is a brilliant debut for its child star Melanie Lenz, and is a rewarding dose of Seidl’s wicked determination to find playful pathos in the darkest of corners.
Dir. Ulrich Seidl, 2013, digital presentation, 100 min.