Seidl & Von Trier & Haneke

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I started watching Ulrich Seidl’s film “Paradise: Love” this weekend on Mubi and only made it through the first half.

I couldn’t tell if I was offended or just highly uncomfortable. I almost felt embarrassment for the main character and her cohort instead if the anger one might expect at someone so blatantly racist.

It felt like how I feel when I watch Lars Von Trier films (who I love and hate all at once): beautifully shot, but seems to be evocative just to be different or get attention.

I posed a question on my Facebook page asking friends for their thoughts on the film. It resulted in some interesting conversation, which included some comparison between Seidl, Von Trier, and Michael Haneke (whose film Cache is an all time favorite).

A fellow a Temple MFA grad, Natasha Ngaiza, answered with the following breakdown that I thought was so on point I’d share it here:

I agree that the main character is so pathetic it’s embarrassing. That’s what I loved about it though. It seems to strip racists of their power and reveals them to be just these very sad, insecure people. I think that power dynamic was only possible by showing male prostitutes and female tourists. It’s too loaded the other way around. I think the difference between Haneke and Seidl is that Haneke genuinely respects his characters (even when they’re serial killers!) whereas, Seidl has a lot of contempt for his. It seems like Von Trier actually identifies with his characters. Both Haneke and Seidl observe from a distance

I’m planning on watching the rest tonight.

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