Gaël Morel’s (Three Dancing Slaves, Après lui) Our Paradise tells the tale of murderous male sex worker Vassili (Stéphane Rideau), whose acts of inexplicable violence punctuate a life spent turning tricks on the streets of Paris. Morel struggles to bring shallow and uneven characters to life in what is ultimately an awkward and outlandishly graphic drama.

On a seemingly standard night Vassili , following a brief sojourn to a male client’s apartment, finds an unconscious fellow sex worker in some nearby bushes. The viewer is left to form their own conclusions as to how he came to be here but we are told it involved a violent attack in Paris’ Bois de Boulogne region. Having taken this John Doe back to his apartment, Vassilli elects to name him Angelo, due to the angelic tattoo located on his hip. All of this seems perfectly perfunctory, as the pair then strike up a silent accord to join forces, enabling Vassilli to extort Angelo’s youth and beauty.

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As they grow closer, Vassilli takes Angelo to Lyon to meet his lifelong friend Anna (played ably by Béatrice Dalle) and her 10-year old son (Mathis Morisset). This proves to further confound the script with a subplot that offers little in terms of meaningful narrative. Dalle takes the part of the magician’s assistant well and brings an air of gravitas to the picture, but this does not detract from the frequent and pointlessly graphic scenes of debauchery.

The titular reference to paradise becomes clearer toward the climactic scenes of the film, as the couple head for a luxurious retreat owned by one of Vassilli’s clients. As the supposedly aged hustler attempts to resolve his own inner issues concerning his ongoing struggle with growing old in an industry that apparently favours youth, the lust and greed of the pair becomes clear.

Ultimately, Morel’s picture suffers from an inorganic and rudderless plot that is further disjointed by the men's frequent and tawdry exchanges with clients of varying levels of seediness. From the frequent full frontals, to Vassilli’s unfathomable fits of violent compulsion, the audience has little chance to bond or begin to comprehend the character’s motives.

Reviewed on: 13 Aug 2012
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A murderous sex worker strikes up a bond with a youngster he meets by chance.
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