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. 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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