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Paradise: Faith

Paradise: Faith (2013)

tomatometer

64

Average Rating: 5.8/10
Critic Reviews: 11
Fresh: 7 | Rotten: 4

No consensus yet.

audience

51

liked it
Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 642

My Rating

Movie Info

In "PARADISE: Faith" Ulrich Seidl explores what it means to bear the cross. For Anna Maria, an X-ray technician, paradise lies with Jesus. She devotes her vacation to missionary work, so that Austria may be brought back to the path of virtue. On her daily pilgrimage through Vienna, she goes from door to door, carrying a foot-high statue of the Virgin Mary. One day, after years of absence, her husband, an Egyptian Muslim confined to a wheelchair, comes home. Hymns and prayers are now joined by

Unrated,

Drama

Ulrich Seidl, Veronika Franz

Oct 21, 2013

$4.4k

Strand Releasing

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All Critics (35) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (25) | Rotten (10)

Much like his fellow Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke, Seidl knows how to keep his audience captivated while rattling us with a discomfiting precision.

August 27, 2013 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Scenes are dramatic without a hint of melodrama, so when a flash of intensity does occur, it does so out of nowhere and registers even more powerfully.

August 23, 2013 Full Review Source: RogerEbert.com
RogerEbert.com
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Now, here's the trilogy's second installment, in which the jolly Austrian makes it clear that women of a certain age do not have his permission to overdo it with religion, either.

August 23, 2013 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
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Like it or not, "Paradise: Faith" sticks in your head.

August 22, 2013 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A brutal, unflinching, anxiety-inducing, almost unbearably hard to watch film.

August 22, 2013 Full Review Source: NPR
NPR
Top Critic IconTop Critic

With little room to feel for or even understand Anna Maria, "Paradise: Faith" rarely seems more than high art with low intentions.

August 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The work of a master. This just isn't his masterpiece.

March 27, 2014 Full Review Source: Thompson on Hollywood
Thompson on Hollywood

Holy Hun exorcises demons in Born Again sequel!

February 16, 2014
Baret News

Comes from an intolerably smug and cynical place.

January 10, 2014 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

As a vision of exploitation, it's almost insultingly simple, but Seidl deepens it with a story that respects the human neediness of his heroine.

August 27, 2013 Full Review Source: The Dissolve
The Dissolve

There just isn't two hours' worth of movie here, especially considering that Seidl has previously addressed some of the same ideas in his religious documentary Jesus, You Know.

August 22, 2013 Full Review Source: AV Club
AV Club

Using the same script-free approach and mix of pros and first-time actors...that's marked his work so far, it's confrontational, abrasive stuff, both in form and content.

August 21, 2013 Full Review Source: The Playlist
The Playlist

Solid characters in a transgressive look at the virtue of Faith

August 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Movie Habit
Movie Habit

Seidl's lack of compassion through all this turns Anna Marie into a kind of sad clown (is that the reason Seidl dedicated the film to Max Linder?).

August 19, 2013 Full Review Source: Screen International
Screen International

A shallow film that leaves us knowing exactly what we're seeing, and able to predict what the characters will say to each other in the mostly uninspired and overtly familiar dialogue.

August 14, 2013 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

A sober minded and poignant film about the dangers of religious zeal.

August 8, 2013 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Audience Reviews for Paradise: Faith

Anna Maria (Hofstatter) is a middle-aged Austrian working in a clinic by day, spreading the word of Jesus by night. Each evening, and at weekends, she takes a train to the poorer suburbs of Vienna where she knocks on doors, plastic statue of Mary Magdalene in hand, attempting to convert immigrants to Catholicism. Some are happy to indulge her but most inflict verbal, and even physical, abuse on Anna Maria. When her wheelchair-bound Muslim husband, Nabil (Saleh), returns home after an unexplained two year absence, her increased fundamentalism drives a rift between the two.
Across Europe, Christianity is dying out, yet those who choose to remain Christian are growing increasingly fundamental. Anna Maria is one such person. If you have a low threshold for these type of religious whack-jobs, Anna Maria will truly test your patience. I don't think I've seen a more despicable character onscreen all year, at least not in such a tangible form, and Hofstatter is eerily impressive in the role.
As you'd expect from an Austrian film, for the most part Seidl's second installment in his 'Paradise' trilogy (sandwiched between 'Love' and the upcoming 'Hope') is relentlessly grim. Watching Anna Maria inflict physical punishment on herself, like a Christian version of Isabelle Huppert's 'Piano Teacher', can be hard to watch, but for rationalists it's her constant mumbling of incantations which really grates. Interestingly, no subtitles are provided for these "prayers". It's a trick which is both clever and crude, reducing her words literally, at least for non-German speakers, to meaningless nonsense.
Among the general murkiness, we get the occasional moment of black comedy. A scene involving Anna Maria's visit to a mentally-challenged man provides some of the biggest laughs I've had in some time and reminded me of the infamous "cot" scene in Kubrick's 'Lolita'. The humor goes a little over the top towards the end, however, as Anna Maria and Nabil's bickering comes close to 'Tom & Jerry' levels.
Seidl frames his tortured protagonist in the same manner she thinks of herself: low. Anna Maria's eye-line is rarely higher than the midpoint of the frame. The same goes for Nabil, but of course he is wheelchair-bound. Both characters, Seidl's framing tells us, are crippled in different ways. The director's point, that religion is an affliction to the mind, ultimately cripples his film to a degree. Those who share his view of faith will require more than this simple and blunt message, while those who disagree are unlikely to be the audience for a film of this nature. When you preach solely to the choir, you can't expect any converts.
June 26, 2013
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Foreign Titles

  • Paradies: Glaube (DE)
  • Paradise: Faith (Paradies: Glaube) (UK)
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