Richard (played by Leonardo Di Caprio) has left his home in America to travel and “see the world”. He is backpacking through Asia, when in Bangkok he meets a Scotsman, Daffy (by Robert Carlyle). Clearly effected by his own experiences and too many drugs, Daffy tells Richard of a legendary Paradise on Earth he has been to on a remote Thai island. He scrawls a map, then takes his own life. Not really sure of himself but keen to find out if it’s true, Richard hooks up with two fellow travellers, Françoise (by Virginie Ledoyen) and her boyfriend Étienne (by Guillaume Canet) to follow the map and find the supposed paradise. The journey is arduous, but worth it when they finally arrive at the Island and see the beauty for themselves. They find a community there, lead by Sal (by Tilda Swinton) which is well established and running smoothly. They settle in, eager for the leisurely life and to partake in the huge crop of marijuana growing nearby. This is really Paradise – nobody has any cares, there are no problems and there’s all the dope you could ever want. Could anything possibly wreck this idyllic life? …..
This movie doesn’t really happen for me. The idea that such a paradise exists is an interesting one and the dynamics of the community, coupled with the lengths they will go to to keep it exclusive, make it an interesting and thought-provoking concept. In that sense it is worthwhile, but I’m afraid the depiction of the drama and the potential for suspense in places is lost in me. There are some dramatic and violent scenes, but these generally leave me cold here. I’ve enjoyed several other performances by Leonardo DiCaprio and this (his first major project after the overwhelming success of Titanic), really seems far too earnest and to me his character is quite overdone. In general, the performances of those in the support roles are only okay too – best is Tilda Swinton, as Sal, the unofficial leader of the community. The others are so-so. The scenery of Thailand, particularly on the island where this was filmed, is truly magnificent. The camerawork is great too and there are some very well executed sequences. I have enjoyed several other of Danny Boyle’s movies, so I’m not quite sure why this one doesn’t happen for me. The movie is based on Alex Garland’s acclaimed novel of the same name.
Made in 2000. Directed by Danny Boyle