Adapted from the French Le Grand
Chemin, this Mary Agnes Donoughe-film is one of those hidden
treasures that has received far less acclaim than it should have. It is
an incredibly poignant and sincere film about the simple things in life.
The direction by Donoughe is wonderful. She's not afraid to cherish her
beautiful images, but at the same time she keeps them unpretentious.
Although there are trivial moments in the film, Paradise is
filled with exceptional scenes and segments - most of them involving the
sensational Elijah Wood. It is when Wood and the almost equally
brilliant Thora Birch are having their one-on-one sessions that Paradise
is at its most genuine (the scene when the two are swimming is
singular), but the Wood/Johnson-relation is also touching. Only Melanie
Griffith struggles (I wonder why she can't speak like a normal person),
but even her performance is elevated by Wood's presence. At its best
Paradise is a both painfully and wonderfully absorbing drama.