Sunday 29 August 2010

The Mammoth Movie Meme: Day 29

Day 29 - Movie you have watched more than ten times - Paradise (1991)

Aside from Home Alone (1990) - my first big film obsession - Mary Agnes Donoghue’s Paradise (1991) was the film that I returned to most throughout the 1990s. An adaptation of Jean Loup Hubert’s Le Grand Chemin (1988), in which a city boy (Elijah Wood) stays with his mother’s grieving friends (Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson) for a summer, it’s still one of my favourite films of all time, a movie that I recall with tremendous affection and pleasure. What I responded to in Paradise as a 12-year-old is hard to recall precisely, but I certainly remember feeling that this was a movie with characters that felt totally authentic to me, characters that I could relate to, whose problems and concerns echoed my own. I loved the film’s sense of intimacy, its look, its flow, its deep compassion and sly moments of humour. I see Paradise now as a transitional film, in the sense that it bridged the gap between kids movies and adult cinema for me; indeed, the gaps and parallels in adults and children’s emotional experience of the world is one of the film’s themes. Donoghue handles the material with delicacy, wit and tenderness, and gets from her four principal actors (Thora Birch plays Billie, who befriends Wood’s character) some of their best ever moments on screen. After her beautiful work here, it’s a shame that Donoghue never got the chance to direct another movie. Still, at least there’s always the opportunity - one I intend to take up quite soon, in fact - to return to Paradise.

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