Rating: *(1 Star)
On paper, Paradise Beach has all the right ingredients that would have made up an exciting gangster film. Shot in the picturesque Thailand, Paradise Beach is about a group of men who have turned their backs on a life of crime to live quietly as businessmen.
During one big robbery, one of their men, Mehdi (played by Sami Bouajila) is captured by the police and is locked away in prison for 15 years. When he returns, everything has changed, including his share of the money that is now long gone. Mehdi’s brother, Hicham (played by Tewfik Jallab) opens his home to him but is living a luxurious life, with a wife and two children. In fact, all the other gang members are now restaurant owners and have lavish homes and beautiful wives. What follows is Mehdi’s integration to his brother and gang’s new life and the troubles that arise in the process.
We’ve been careful to not give you any spoilers in case you want to watch the film and decide for yourself, but in all honesty, we’re not going to encourage you to do that, for several reasons. Firstly, Paradise Beach is a badly made film. The script, which actually did have room for creativity, falls flat as it is just another crime drama with a very predictable ending. The film revolves around a group of men who are like brothers but at the same time are trying to maintain their relationship to one another despite all the bad blood that exists, and while that sounds like an interesting dynamic to watch, the film doesn’t dig deep enough and barely scratches the surface to identify the complexities of such relationships.
The film pretty much does that with everything it depicts. For instance, it does the same disservice to Thailand as well. It paints the country with the same brush that most others do when talking about Phuket: the place is reduced to clubs, beaches, alcohol and prostitutes.
Even the characters are all one-dimensional – everyone is either good or bad, and there isn’t much of a character arc for anyone, including the lead characters. Mehdi is angry and therefore creating havoc, Hicham is guilty for his brother’s misfortune so is always trying to help him and give him the benefit of doubt.
There are some moments that are written well but poorly acted. For instance (spoiler alert) one of the gang members starts shouting at his girlfriend for feeding her dinner to her dog and he punishes her in front of everyone on the dinner table. How does he do it? He shouts at her to put her hands on her head as punishment while everyone watches uncomfortably. That scene, although poorly performed, added some depth and insight into what these men are capable of, despite the fact that they’re trying to convince Mehdi, or us actually, that they’ve changed and are now living quietly and peacefully as a couple of respectable businessmen.
In conclusion, Paradise Beach is as cliched as it’s title.