Dusky Paradise Image

Dusky Paradise

By Enrique Acosta | August 11, 2019

Uninteresting and uninspired. Jacob travels to a foreign country to live in his dead parent’s house and look after their turtle. He meets an old man (Matteo)  and a young woman (Zoe). He falls in love with the woman, but she doesn’t return his feelings. That is it. That is really the extent of the film. Less a story and more a checklist for things that are supposed to happen in indie romantic comedies, Dusky Paradise is a meandering unmotivated mess of a story that goes nowhere.

Now in fairness the writer of Dusky Paradise, Gregory Kirchhoff is German, and the film is in English. Maybe it is a translation problem. Perhaps in his native language, he is hilarious. In English, however, absolutely nothing about this “comedy” works on any level. Instead, we have a series of painful exchanges between the supporting cast and a main character who has no ambition beyond eating and sleeping.

“Jacob travels to a foreign country to live in his dead parent’s house and look after their turtle…”

Jacob, the main character of Dusky Paradise, is just the worst. Self-centered and full of entitlement, he appears to have not existed before the opening credits. He exists only to stand in judgment of those around him. None of his actions are grounded or motivated. He merely moves from scene to scene because it is time for that to happen. His budding romantic feelings for Zoe are inexplicable and seem to happen simply because she is the only female in the story.

Zoe, our local pixie dream girl, appears from nowhere and steals Jacob’s heart. For…reasons. She is an art dealer, which is “hilarious” because in a previous scene, Jacob does a long diatribe on why art is total bullshit. So now Jacob has to pretend to like art so he can talk to her. For…reasons. It goes much better than you’d expect, but Jacob just bails on the conversation when she goes away for a moment. You’d expect that to be a deal-breaker for Zoe. But, no, she has a mopey guy to save. As a catalyst for what little change we see in Jacob, she is less a character and more a plot device.

“…has a series of painful exchanges between the supporting cast and a main character who has no ambition…”

Matteo, our wise old guy, is Jacob’s neighbor. His job is to say wise things and do creepy things. Like when Jacob accidentally loses his keys, Mateo will only give him the spares if Jacob has dinner with him. Or the fact that Matteo drives to a certain spot every day to stare at his ex-wife. Or at a dinner party when Zoe lays out her view of life and Matteo essentially says, “That’s stupid, and so are you.” This wise old guy character is a creepy, controlling, stalker, better suited to a psychological thriller.

Dusky Paradise was funded in large part due to a crowdfunding campaign.  And for that, Mr. Kirchhoff should be lauded. He managed to raise the money to see his vision through. Well done. However, his vision is a bland, paint by numbers, “romantic comedy” devoid of any heart originality or soul.


Dusky Paradise (2019)

Directed and Written: Gregory Kirchhoff

Starring: Kes Baxter, Charlotte Krenz, and Martin Umbach, etc.

Movie score: 1/10

Dusky Paradise Image

"…Jacob does a long diatribe on why art is total bullshit."

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  1. Stephen Rose says:

    Excuse me, I apologize for writing such a negative comment, but wow, writer, you shouldn’t even be allowed to publish film reviews. Not only did you miss the point of the entire movie but your attitude toward the filmmaking is callous and disrespectful.
    Did you notice that the girl is sobbing as she drives away at the end? Did you notice that the young man is sobbing when the turtle miraculously returns to him? Did you notice that the older guy goes thru a transmogrification and finally understand that he must go off after his ex-wife?
    I’m not saying it’s a great film. It’s bathos gets a little soporific and one never learns what’s really gone on between the older guy and his “wife,” let alone how it can be that she doesn’t see him sitting there day after day. But it’s not a go nowhere empty film…by a long shot.
    Your writing is filmically illiterate. You’re basically writing about your personal entertainment takes. It’s like this website was given to you as a present by a rich father so that you can feel important. Oh, and fyi, the reason for Jacob’s diatribe on why art is bullshit is that he is anhedonic…he’s not related to anything. He’s utterly alone and his feelings are sleep. His dialogue in this regard is near perfect. The film’s about his awakening…tho I will add that it all seems far too easy, quick and simple. It’s a bit shallow. The character’s aren’t really developed richly. On the other hand, the scene transitions are well done. The story gets trimmed pretty well.
    You, writer of this piece, need to study film a good bit before attempting to write about it critically.Take a course, for God’s sake.

  2. Petra says:

    Great film! Loved this movie! This critic has no idea what he is talking about. Empty soul!

  3. TM says:

    Obviously the writer of this review needs to have more patience as the main character in the movie was told by Matteo. You need to listen to what is said ……between the silence and what the reviewer views as “going nowhere”. It is unfortunate to read such a bad review for a delightful movie about how one person can be changed by just a few. The movie has great acting, great scenery and YES a rather simple but not a mess of a story as the reviewer believes it to be. The reviewer misses the point–thinking that the movie was devoid of any heart or soul. I applaud Mr. Kirchhoff for producing something that doesn’t include all the glitz and sound effects and such of many American movies. It is, as another reviewer said, a delightful movie.

  4. Anne says:

    Well, I have to say I completely disagree with your insensate and uninspiring review of this film. The *many* subtleties sprinkled throughout this film filled it with a nuanced tension that while the meter was slow (like the turtle) added depth to each interaction, no matter how sparse it may have appeared to you. I found the whole film sensitive and intriguing as it delved into the psyche of a young man who was emotionally shut down from interacting with and experiencing the world, and how through unexpected interactions with his neighbor, the town, the landscape, the young woman, and the memories (or lack there of) of his parents, his protective mechanism cracked, revealing a child-like nature trepidatious yet curious. It showed that even the blandest of appearances can mask a sensitive feeling soul, in the same way that a Japanese reflective pond can mask the depth of the water below, often teeming with koi and other life.
    I found this to be a delightful movie, despite the occasional “creepy” vibes from the old man Matteo – which I felt was due to an obvious pain from the failure of his marriage – and the ending was an uplifting full circle highlighting how important community can be in healing trauma and supporting positive experience.
    But that is purely my own opinion, and I am happy to have read yours.

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