Paradise: Love

Director: Ulrich Seidl
Year Released: 2012
Rating: 2.0

Matronly Teresa (Margarete Tiesel) ventures from Austria to Kenya for vacation and gets caught up in sex tourism, fornicating with poor Kenyan men who hang around the resort she's staying at in exchange for her giving money to people they take her to meet around town. While I like Seidl's reversal on the traditional scenario - most films are about men who engage in this kind of behavior - it is uncomfortably clear that he holds Teresa and her similarly middle-aged female companions in disdain: their lumpy, sagging bodies are fixated upon contemptuously and the way they use the men (and mock them) is grotesque (the birthday party scene in which they expect the male dancer to be aroused by their mere presence is particularly horrendous to watch), while the Kenyan male prostitutes are seen as parasitic liars who tell the women what they want to hear (while draining them of their money). What Seidl wants us to surmise from the scenario never goes beyond the surface: it's a creepy display of control and power in which both sides (the poor African males and the love-sick/foolish European women) are to be held in contempt.