Wednesday, 25 February 2015

REVIEW - ESCOBAR: PARADISE LOST (ANDREA DI STEFANO)


The white man travels south to discover that the dreams he sought are not so simply obtained as he thought in Andrea di Stefano's unwittingly offensive Escobar: Paradise Lost. It functions as a fairly rancid warning to Westerners not to venture outside our beloved homelands without considerable caution, whilst venerating our supposed right to colonise at will. Not as big of a stretch as that might seem, regarding this film's narrative blueprint, since it's that narrative's principal propulsion. Escobar: Paradise Lost flirts with the politics that should have taken up such a position, that of providing momentum for the film's plot alongside moral ambiguity; di Stefano gladly employs such mild political uncertainty to lure us in and to shake us up, forcing it to dictate the directions of our sympathy. It's not difficult to see how much more complex matters must have been in reality, nor how much more complex it would have been to write this screenplay taking that into proper account. As a crass, simplistic thriller, though, Escobar: Paradise Lost has some wholly effective sequences, including an exciting final act that justifies the film's length - up to this point, its formulaic nature has caused serious dragging issues. Virtually the only aspect that keeps the film afloat at all is Benicio del Toro as Pablo Escobar - watch how del Toro does ostensibly so little, yet so thoroughly convinces you of his character. His power is palpable in even the slightest, subtlest of gestures, a subtlety that this film is so below, so unworthy of. Its only subtext is its soft-peddled xenophobia.