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film

Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise trilogy

Ulrich Seidl, Paradise: Love, 2012, 35 mm, color, sound, 120 minutes. Beach Boy (Gabriel Nguma Mwarua) and Teresa (Margarethe Tiesel).

IMAGINE A WORLD in which the environment is pristine, the architecture sublime, the people polite; a world in which each existential need has been met and all social problems solved—but everyone is quietly miserable or raving mad. Welcome to Ulrich Seidl’s Austria. For thirty years, the Vienna-based filmmaker has unveiled disturbing aspects of the quotidian using forms that impede the way we register what is unrehearsed and what staged. Mixing lay with professional actors, improvised dialogue with spontaneous encounters, and a primarily stationary camera with bursts of kinesis, Seidl renders the borders between the documentary and fiction film unknowable and unnecessary.

After individual studies of coupling, conformity, and small-town and big-city hypocrisy (Dog Days [2001]), the church (Jesus, You Know [2003]), and East–West relations (Import/Export [2007]), Seidl has delivered

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