Uma (Emma Roberts) is about to have the most lavish wedding imaginable. However, it soon becomes apparent that she is in fact descending into a forced, patriarchal form of servitude.
… like the milk the girls are forced to drink, there’s ultimately “nothing in it”.
Flashing back two months earlier, we see wake up on the island of ‘Paradise’ where the women are taught to be dutiful brides. Orchestrated by the mysterious Duchess (Milla Jojovich), the island espouses “emotional healing”, however, beyond its fairy tale facade, something much more sinister lurks…
Alice Waddington’s young-adult debut is sadly an awkward and unconvincing mishmash of ideas and values. Whilst it wishes to promote a healthy agenda, its dumbed-down storyline can only paint in the shades of black and white.
The principal problem here is its intended audience. For those who have already made their journey through ‘The Hunger Games’ series, there’s little or no intrigue here to feast upon. Riffing between ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and also borrowing heavily from Kazuo Ishiguro’s ‘Never Let Me Go’, the characters in ‘Paradise Hills’s’ as primary as the colours they are forced to wear. Coasting on top of their performances is Milla Jojovich, once again relegated to a poutingly-evil matriarch, all clipped syllables and knowing glances, most of which are as devoid of tension as they are surprise.
Throughout all this, like Brexit, Emma Roberts’s Uma constantly voices her intention to leave, whilst the potentially more interesting backstory of her betrayal is wilfully ignored. Stuck with the stark choice of stay or go, stick or bust, the plot eventually drags Uma and her friends kicking and screaming to the finale. However by that time, its too late. Any protestations for further interest are pretty much meaningless. Jojovich hisses her last and with a reveal that desperately grasps for fairytale significance, the film ends up drowning in the very morality it sought to destroy.
As with its colour-by-numbers attempt to vilify the patriarchy, ‘Paradise Hills’ is much like the milk the girls are forced to drink. ” There’s nothing in it”.