Movie spotlight: 'Paradise: Hope'

  • Article by: COLIN COVERT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 2, 2013 - 3:00 PM
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“Paradise: Hope,” screening Friday, is the final film in a trilogy by Austrian director Ulrich Seidl.

Photo: Strand Releasing ,

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Friday: Ulrich Seidl: sadomasochistic provocateur or compassionate observer of the human condition? Like his countryman Michael Haneke, Vienna-born Seidl combines an unsparing view of humanity with undeniable sympathy for his flawed characters. The finale of his taboo-testing “Paradise” trilogy, “Paradise: Hope” (⋆⋆ out of four stars) takes place at a clinic-like weight-loss camp for teens. The authoritarian staff rule their charges with humiliation (sing-alongs of “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your fat”) and dubious exercises. (Did anyone ever shed weight by hanging immobile from monkey bars?) The exception is the handsome 50ish staff physician (Joseph Lorenz), whose flirtatious attention to his chubby female patients feels predatory. Thirteen-year-old Melanie (Melanie Lenz), emboldened by her roommates’ giggling sex talk and teasing, begins showing up in his examination room daily. Her first big crush takes a perverse turn worthy of David Lynch. The takeaway is at least moderately hopeful. Melanie, though she goes through the wringer with boys and men, will live to love another day. (Unrated, in subtitled German and English. 7 p.m. Fri., Walker Art Center Cinema, 1750 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. $7-$9. 612-375-7600 or tickets.walkerart.org.)

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