This morning’s movie – Rust and Bone – made me cry with happiness…but this afternoon’s offering – Paradise: Love – left me wanting to cry with despair. But no tears would come. I felt too empty. It wasn’t the film making. It was the topic – white women who pick up black men in Africa. The exploitation…by the women looking for love and companionship, by the men looking for money. It’s a life filled with lies – the Sugar Mamas who lie to themselves, and the men who blatantly lie to them. If only everyone would quit lying and be more honest about their needs – they may find some satisfaction.
But instead their lives are vacuous. Good-looking guys having to seduce frumpy older women, older women being taken for a ride, and the wives of the young men having to endure the endless infidelity.
It’s a very real situation in various African countries, and I applaud the Austrian film-makers for not sugar-coating the situation. (Although I’m not sure if we needed to see quite so much nudity – headlines with the words ‘Free Willy’ spring to mind.) There are scenes that are so non-pc it’s hard to watch. Even the opening image is a little bizarre (I won’t spoil it for you!).
The film is actually the first in a trilogy of ‘Paradise’ stories and is set on the beaches of Kenya where the Europeans bask lazily in the sun on one side of a long rope, whilst the local black men stand on the other side trying to sell everything from bangles to love. The story follows 50-year-old Teresa as she leaves her teenage daughter in Austria to join her best friend in Kenya for a vacation where she attempts, repeatedly, to find real love and connection with a young Kenyan man; to find a man who’ll look into her eyes and into her heart…and not want money in return.
The other two stories in the trilogy will follow two other women in the same family taking their vacations – one as a Catholic missionary (Paradise: Faith) and the other as a diet camp for teenagers (Paradise: Hope). I look forward to Faith and Hope. Because Love was loveless.