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PARADISE: FAITH

Director: ULRICH SEIDL

113 minutes, Austria-Germany-France, 2012, Subtitled, Colour, D-Cinema


SCREENING EXCLUSIVELY AT THE IFI

The central section of Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise triptych sees him back home in Austria, tracing the contents and discontents of devotion. As played with committed intensity by Maria Hofstätter, here’s another woman seeking fulfilment, this time through an extreme Catholicism which sees her hawking statues of the Virgin round low-rent Vienna, then returning home for some empowering self-flagellation.

Seidl appears to treat the character with scorn or pity, but the film gets much more complex and layered with the return of her paraplegic husband, a Muslim whom she married in earlier, less devout times, but now regards as a test of her faith. As an intimate holy war breaks out in their clinically spotless home, Seidl fearlessly adopts a ruthless comedy of embarrassment, which strips bare the underlying contradictions between her evangelical fanaticism and supposedly Christian compassion. Confrontational and compelling. (Notes By Trevor Johnston.)

 

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