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"..it's quite painful yet tantalising, seeing myself at age of eight, despite having my wrinkles and double chin!"  -Franco Zeffirelli on making his autobiographical film, Tea with Mussolini
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Monday June 15, 2020 

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In the Paris of the 1880s, Paul Gauguin (Kiefer Sutherland) is a successful stockbroker who loves his Danish wife Mette (Nastassja Kinski) and four children. But he loves painting even more and when one of his idols, Camille Pissarro (Alun Armstrong) compliments him on his work, Gauguin decides to throw it all in to become a painter himself. Soon, the family is reduced to poverty with Mette and the children moving back to her family home in Copenhagen. Paul follows and tries his hand at a business career but his heart isnít in it. He returns to France to pursue his dream, but in search of fresh inspiration Ė and cheaper overheads Ė he sets sail for Tahiti. Gauguin sides with the Tahitians in their conflict with the colonial administration and missionaries, who are destroying the islandersí traditional faith. He produces some of his best work, which when exhibited in Paris, earns Gauguin nothing but ridicule and humiliation. All except Mette and Pissarro turn their backs on him. Hurt but more determined than ever, Gauguin returns to the South Seas to continue the fight.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Thanks to inventive production design and cinematography, Paradise Found looks more substantial than its budget, which despite its many financing partners is not large enough. Perhaps a little more money would have bought enough time to develop and refine the script, which feels laboured rather than inspired. 

This is a heavy weight to carry for a film also burdened with the sort of cross cultural casting that makes it impossible for audiences to connect with the cultural and social context of the story. How characters sound is one of the most basic and crucial elements of film, because they build character; using English for commercial reasons (when it isnít the real language of the story) can be successful, so long as there is a uniformity to the use of accents and tones (eg The Pianist). 

Here, the accents and timbres of the cast consistently throw us off the scent of character and context, ranging from old Australian to new, from English to American and accented English. This is not helped by the filmís structure, which hops back and forth in time like a grasshopper but with less reason. To make matters worse, a miscast Keifer Sutherland gives an uninspired performance as Gaugin. Biographies are basically documentary in nature and flipping the time line is fraught with hazards. There is a sense of disorientation about the filmís editing which deprives us of any emotional journey. Confused and disconnected, I found the film frustrating for presenting a fascinating subject and intriguing artist in such inaccessible form. 

Published November 6, 2003

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CAST: Kiefer Sutherland, Nastassja Kinski, Alun Armstrong, Thomas Heinze, Chris Haywood, Nicholas Hope

DIRECTOR: Mario Andreacchio

SCRIPT: John Goldsmith

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

PRESENTATION: 16 : 9 widescreen



DVD RELEASE: October 8, 2003

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