Monday, 24 June 2019
Hurt by Paradise - film review
Hurt By Paradise is the debut feature by poet/actor/director Greta Bellamacina. It is the story of single parent Celeste (played by Bellamacina) and her unsuccessful attempts to get her first poetry book published. It also follows her search for her estranged father, and her friendship with her babysitter Stella (played by co-writer Sadie Brown) - a middle-aged actor continously chasing auditions and getting caought up in an online relationship with a guy who won't even send her a photo of himself.
The friendship between the two women is foregrounded beautifully, how they support each other despite their disagreement.
The film's real strength is in showing that world inhabited by struggling artists, where the world of success seems unattainable. How do you get to be one of the people welcomed into an audition with air kisses when you're turned away from the audition because they've already found the person they want (the one they air-kissed obviously)? How do you get your poetry published when the editor flicks through your work and says nothing other than he admires your determination then interrupts your interview to take a phone call from someone he then proceeds to shower with praise about their poetry?
Greta Bellamacina's poetry is woven in to the film as voice over to beautiful panning shots of London's cityscapes and greenspaces. There's a lovely rhythm to her poetry and some memorable phrases (eg 'God is bored of us now') but it was perhaps a little self indulgent to include quite so much poetry.
The film also has a wonderful musical soundtrack and some great vintage / vintage-inspired clothing. It's shot in an atmospheric black and white, with moments of colour. Though it's billed as a comedy drama I didn't find it particularly funny except for the occasional humorous comment.
Hurt By Paradise was made with a majority-female crew.
This film would make an interesting double bill with Aren't You Happy? a German film about a writer who can't write, shot in a beautiful colour palette. You can read my review of that here.
Hurt by Paradise got its world premiere as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival at 1800 at Filmhouse amd will screen again at 2025 Saturday 24 June at Vue Omni Centre. You can buy tickets here.
You can read my earlier reviews from Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019, by following the links below:
Boyz in the Wood a group of teenage boys get lost in the Scottish Highlands.
2040 - can technology offer solutions to our current climate and ecological crises?
Bait - Cornish fishermen try to adapt to a changing world
How to Fake a War (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) what happens when a rock star decides to meddle in international affairs?
Farm Animals on Film - featuring The Biggest Little Farm - an inspiring story of the creation of a sustainable biodiverse farm in California, plus Vulture, an experimental film about farm animals.
Virgin and Extra: Land of the Olive Oil.
Chef Diaries Scotland: Spanish Chefs the Roca brothers take the viewer on a culinary road trip round Scotland
Up the Mountain - a year in an artists' studio in the Chinese mountains.
The Amber Light - a cinematic ode to Scotland's national drink
Aren't You Happy (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) - a writer searches for the meaning of life while not actually writing anything
The Deer - a Basque language film following two poachers in a national park on the outskirts of San Sebastien.
Disclaimer: I have a press pass for the film festival and attended a free press screening of these films.