'Paradise' Review

Acclaimed Sri Lankan filmmaker Prasanna Vithanage’s films have always been set against the backdrop of issues that matter to society. In ‘Paradise’ too, he sets his story of a young Malayali couple celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary amidst a socially relevant issue, the Sri Lankan economic crisis of 2022. The film opens with the Malayali couple, Kesav (Roshan Mathew) and Amritha (Darshana Rajendran), heading to the homestay in a car driven by Andrew (Sri Lankan actor Shyam Fernando). The simple beginning turns tumultuous upon their arrival at the homestay.

The undercurrents of the Sri Lankan crisis resonate throughout the film, though the situation is not thrust upon the viewer in any way. The shortage of essential items, including fuel, and uncertainties in the everyday lives of Sri Lankans are evident through the dialogues of the characters around Kesav and Amritha.
This is where Vithanage’s exceptional filmmaking style comes into play. The story gently, yet firmly prods and exposes highly relevant issues without sounding preachy or even bitter. Rather, the story, co-written by Vithanage and Anushka Senanayake, flows smoothly, absorbing its surroundings without compromising the story arc of the couple.

Though Indian cinema has often explored the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) issue, what makes ‘Paradise’ different is the setting itself, as very few films have explored the state of affairs in Sri Lanka after the uprising of 2022, which toppled the President.
Roshan Mathew and Darshana Rajendran, who have played an onscreen couple in previous films like ‘Aanum Pennum’ and ‘C U Soon’, share a wonderful chemistry that makes the viewing experience even better. Roshan, as Kesav, gets to play a complicated character who is trying to make some headway in his professional life. The nuances of his character have been beautifully portrayed by Roshan. Darshana too looks comfortable in her character, who is often more empathetic than her partner. Shyam Fernando and Mahendra Perera are exceptional in their roles as police officers.
The cinematography by Rajeev Ravi soaks in the beauty of Sri Lanka. Overall, the movie emanates a charm reminiscent of a style similar to filmmakers in Kerala, including Jeo Baby George, and haunts you with its open-ended climax