Vassili (Stephane Rideau) is an aging pickpocket and prostitute who finds a young, unconscious man (Dimitri Durdaine) in a notorious Parisian cruising ground and takes him home to nurse his wounds. The two men discover an intense connection and become lovers and accomplices in an increasingly violent game of fleecing their clients. Eventually, Vassili's even more violent past comes back to haunt him, and the two flee for the country in the hopes that they can put aside their corrupt ways and retire to happiness.
But can you ever really leave the past behind?
Perhaps one of the greatest discoveries of having made the choice to cover low-budget cinema on The Independent Critic has been the abundance of thought-provoking and challenging low-budget European cinema, including an amazing wealth of dark and edgy work coming out of France. Our Paradise is an example of the lower-budgeted indie French scene, a film that is dark and edgy and thought-provoking and impossible to ignore even when it's not quite coming together like it really should.
That's what the French do best - They create films you can't ignore even when they're tremendously flawed.
What writer/director Gael Morel does quite well with Our Paradise is to create sympathetic characters despite their decidedly unsympathetic actions throughout the film. Of course, a good amount of credit for that must also go to both Rideau and Durdaine, who perform admirably together in building a believable bond that survives their increasingly drastic actions. The film also has a tremendous supporting cast including Didier Flamand, a 1994 Oscar nominee for Best Live Action Short Film, and Beatrice Dalle, whose performance here gives the film a nice emotional touch.
Our Paradise has played in several of North America's major LGBT film festivals including QFest in Philly, Toronto's Inside Out Film Festival, L.A's Outfest and the granddaddy of 'em all, Frameline in San Francisco. While the film doesn't always gel, it's always infinitely watchable and one of the indie LGBT scene's most compelling and intriguing films to be released in the past year. The film has been picked up by QC Cinema, the LGBT arm of distrib Breaking Glass Pictures, for a home video release with a street date of 2/19/13 and an order date of 1/29/13. For more information, visit the Breaking Glass Pictures website.