February 27, 2023

SCREEN | Seducing 'Midnight at the Paradise' x WFF 2022

"Every relationship requires a healthy dose of delusion."
Liane Balaban Allan Hawco Vanessa Matsui | Midnight at the Paradise | Whistler Film Festival 2022
Whistler Film Festival
Toronto-based Japanese-Canadian actress Vanessa Matsui makes her feature directorial debut in the infidelity drama, Midnight at the Paradise. Her film focuses on the relationship between two interracial couples who collide over the course of a night of sexual chemistry and delusion when an encounter outside the titular Paradise Theatre reignites old sparks.

Liane Balaban stars as Iris, a somewhat stuck forty-something wife and mother caring for her ill former film critic father (Kenneth Welsh in his final film role), who juggles a difficult relationship with her mother (Kate Trotter) and well-meaning husband (Ryan Allen). She rekindles things with an old flame (Allan Hawco) after a screening of her favourite film, Breathless, while trying to preserve the aforementioned cinema connected to her father's legacy.

Bill Robertson's script explores elements of forgiveness and hope in a romantic relationship through the meanings of love, death, and film. It's an enticing setup highlighted by its casual performances peppered with suspicious gazes and lingering attraction.

Set and filmed in Toronto, Matsui's film uses its relationship drama to wrap around an appreciation of cinema as a storytelling medium. Midnight at the Paradise has many hallmarks of an indie romantic drama directed by an actor turned first-time filmmaker with its naturalistic cinematography filmed on streets and focus on sharp dialogue. Still, it's an honest portrait of artists struggling to come to terms with commitment and their own adulthood.

Midnight at the Paradise premiered at the 2022 Whistler Film Festival. It also screens virtually through the Cinequest Film & VR Festival (Silicon Valley) as part of Cinejoy's Spotlight Event on March 4th.

More | YVArcade / AWFJ / POV Magazine

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