I couldn’t be more curious about Paola Randi. Practically nobody saw her first and only feature film, Into Paradiso, and yet it was one of my favorites from 2010.
She graduated with law degree but worked for 10 years for an international non-profit that supported women in the economy. She was selected by the Berlinale’s Talent Campus in 2004 and then studied with Werner Herzog at the Holden School in Torino.
Into Paradiso seemingly came out of nowhere but it was screened at Venice and nominated for the Controcampo Award. When it hit the theaters it just died and I never understood why.
It’s the story of Alfonso (Gianfelice Imparato), a scientist in Naples who gets fired from his job and asks a local politician, Vincenzo Cacace, for a recommendation. He’s initially blown off until Cacace, who’s mixed up with the Camorra, realizes that there’s something in it for him – he sends Vincenzo on a little errand in return for the help we’re really not even sure he’ll give.
Alfonso trusts him and tries to deliver the package, but the recipients are gunned down just as they reach for it and Alfonso flees into a nearby apartment building so that the same thing doesn’t happen to him. Little does he know how his life will change in the world he’s about to discover.The building has become a kind of enclave for immigrants from Sri Lanka – a “Paradiso”, a home away from home that seems far away from the outside streets of Napoli.
A Sri Lanka favorite son, Gayan, an ex-Cricket champion has just arrived in Italy, believing that he’ll find “La Dolce Vita” and is disappointed to find his friends and family doing menial jobs and living not so differently than they did in Sri Lanka. Most importantly, he is having a hard time adjusting to the life of a washed up nobody, and his family doesn’t waste any time telling him to stop feeling sorry for himself and start working.
When Alfonso hides from the Camorra in Gayan’s apartment all hell breaks loose. It’s exciting, it’s funny, and it’s sweet, all at once. Critics here are comparing it to another favorite of mine, ” Mio Cognato”, a movie with Luigi Lo Cascio playing a normal guy (like Alfonso) who finds himself in the middle of the seedy part of town ( in Mio Cognato it’s Bari) but I see a big difference – “Into Paradiso” is girly. And I mean that in a good way.
The soundtrack is just plain cool, blending electronica, spaghetti western harmonica tunes and Sri Lankan music.
Whatever the reason Italy didn’t take to Into Paradiso, I hope it didn’t discourage Paola Randi. I think she’s on to something.
Into Paradiso – With English Subtitles
Director: Paola Randi
Writers: Chiara Barzini (screenplay), Luca Infascelli (screenplay)
Stars: Gianfelice Imparato, Saman Anthony and Eloma Ran Janz