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.