A Paradise Under the Stars | Chicago Reader

A Paradise Under the Stars

In a timely twist on the ever popular Latin-American “life is a cabaret” genre—or to quote the film, “Life is not a dream; life is a show!”—Gerardo Chijona has fashioned a brightly colored extravaganza equally at home on the streets of Havana or the stage of the Tropicana. For it's the legendary Tropicana—venue of the biggest showbiz names at the height of Batistan decadence and still a popular nightspot under Castro—that's the central axis of the film. Spilling over with the requisite exuberance and theatricality of such a venture, Paradise also manages to connect to another popular Latin-American genre that's become very in of late, namely the coincidence pileup. Here the most disparate and far-fetched destinies cross and intertwine, with the help of plenty of hysteria and soap-operatic improbability (hereditary star-shaped birthmarks on buttocks play a key role). Paradise handles its whimsy well: in moments of exasperation the heroine is given to self-flagellation with a flyswatter, and zombies in stretch sateen and showgirls in towering headdresses strut their stuff in sync. But in the end this kind of sustained high energy can be fatiguing. Chijona might have done well to insert a touch of the semidocumentarian, behind-the-scenes rawness that characterized his first film, Adorable Liars. 90 min.


Cast information not available at this time.

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