Dead-End Paradise | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Dead-End Paradise

Don't miss free indy films at Millsaps, starting Sept. 15 at 7:30 p.m. in Leggett Center.

Sept. 4, 2003

A tight shaky shot of bathroom-wall graffiti inscribed with the words "Serching for Paradice" exemplifies this movie of the same name (although spelled correctly). In this freshman debut by writer and director Myra Paci, we follow recent high school graduate Gilda Mattei (Susan May Pratt) as she deals with the loss of her Italian father (Michele Placido) about whom she seems to have an Electra Complex.

After his death, Gilda finds evidence of an affair that her father had been having for years. She fights with her mother over her father's years-long liaison with this Italian doctor and then escapes with her new hand-held camcorder to New York for her grandfather's 70th birthday to try and track down the object of her obsession, a moody actor.

While in New York, Gilda has a minor flirtation with a Ph.D. student (Jeremy Davies) and struggles to grasp a meaning for her life. After being denied a loan of her grandparents' Peugeot, Gilda takes a bus ride to Virginia, where the actor Michael De Santis is filming his new film. Along the way the viewers are treated to some of the rich fantasy life in Gilda's head. In a hotel room in Virginia, Gilda remakes herself into a version of her father's lover, Paola, gains access to the set, and an interview with De Santis. He guesses what she is up to but invites her to dinner in his hotel room alone. Gilda's search for paradise ends up similar to everyone else's, in a dead end.

The director's cunning use of cutaways and personal "diaries" creates a rich and interesting combination. This is a feminine version of coming-of-age films such as "Igby Goes Down" and "Tadpole" of the past couple of years. It is both disconcerting and enveloping.

"Searching For Paradise" is the first film in this year's South Carolina Arts Commission Southern Circuit. It will be shown Monday, Sept. 15 at 7:30 p.m. in Leggett Center on the Millsaps College campus. The others in this series, which will also be shown at Millsaps, are "The American Astronaut" (Oct. 13), "Catching Out" (Nov. 17), "Daddy Cool" (Feb. 23), "Refrigerator Mothers" (Mar. 29), and "Waco: The Rules of Engagement" (April 5). Show times are 7:30 p.m. and are open to the public at no cost. Following the films, the filmmakers will be available for questions.

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