By Adam Ray Palmer
For a debut feature-length movie, Paradise (A New Life) is certainly a great start for any filmmaker.
Davide Del Degan has been highly spoken about in his homeland, and now his debut movie is doing the speaking for him around the world.
After having witnessed a mafia murder and more importantly, deciding to speak out, the seller of granite Calogero (Vincenzo Nemolato) enters a witness protection program and finds himself catapulted to Sauris, a small village lost in the cold mountains of Friuli, with a new identity and a new home: the residence Paradise.
From the hot Sicily to the snow of the Alps, Calogero soon comes to realise that the cold weather and the weird Schuhplattler folk dances do not suit him. However, he soon finds out the killer he had reported started a new life there too. What ensues are scenes of misunderstandings that lead to an unlikely friendship.
Paradise is comprised of tempo-switching sequences. From the more dramatic and tense moments, to the comedic and friendship-building scenes. The sole focus of the shift in speed is to let you into a world where an ordinary man who makes an extraordinary choice, who then suffers the unexpected consequences, and everything that may bring. Life is unpredictable, and Del Degan’s Paradise realises this.
Calogero lives with the fear of being found, a fear that becomes paranoia when he sees the man he is running from unexpectedly arrives. He believes his days are now numbered, but the killer in fact has no intention of ending his life, but to begin an ambiguous friendship between the two men – and this is the scary unpredictability of Calogero’s existence.
The film is meeting of two ideals, revolving around two completely different characters. Calogero wants to be with his family, including a pregnant wife, but he couldn’t not do the right thing and report the Mafia murder. And then we have Giovanni, a repentant killer that states “I can be what I want here”. His ideal is to start again, re-build his life and find something new.
Paradise’s narrative is captured expertly from Del Degan (director), piecing together an intelligent plot with captivating shots. Del Degan is an exciting talent and one to watch for sure. Whilst the movie is a little farfetched, it’s not necessarily the actual plot you are attracted to. The interweaving lives of the core characters is reminiscent of any other family drama, but the undertone of comedic life-and-death situation for Calogero gives the movie a different dimension. What comes from this theme is clear, Del Degan enjoys surprising his audience without losing the picture's depth.
Cineroom’s rating: 3.5 stars
Paradise screened at the 2020 Glasgow Film Festival as part of the ‘Pioneer’ strand.