Paradise Road


Paradise Road

Critics Consensus

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Total Count: 21


Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,611
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Movie Info

Based on the testimony of survivors, this historical drama recounts the WWII heroism of female prisoners of war. (Glenn Close) stars as Adrienne Partiger, a society doyenne who flees Singapore with other expatriate women, mostly the wives of servicemen, when Japanese forces invade in 1942. When their gunboat is sunk in an air attack, the survivors wash ashore on Japanese-held Sumatra. The women are interned in a grim POW camp where punishments for even minor infractions are extreme. With the help of a missionary (Pauline Collins), Partiger corrals the women, including a tough American (Julianna Margulies), an Australian nurse (Cate Blanchett) and a young wife (Jennifer Ehle) into a musical group. Since singing is not allowed, the a cappella chorus dubs itself "a vocal orchestra" and is tolerated -- if barely -- by their Japanese captors. Though living conditions are squalid, food is scarce, and a thin sliver of soap inspires a shower brawl, the music keeps spirits uplifted and a Jewish-German doctor (Frances McDormand) provides some medical aid. Writer-director Bruce Beresford interviewed real-life participants in similar POW musical groups. Some provided, from memory, sheet music of the pieces they performed, which were used in the film. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi


Glenn Close
as Adrienne Pargiter
Pauline Collins
as Margaret Drummond
Cate Blanchett
as Susan McCarthy
Frances McDormand
as Dr. Verstak
Julianna Margulies
as Topsy Merritt
Jennifer Ehle
as Rosemary Leighton-Jones
Elizabeth Spriggs
as Mrs. Roberts
Tessa Humphries
as Celia Roberts
Sab Shimono
as Colonel Hiroyo
Johanna ter Steege
as Sister Wilhelmina
Wendy Hughes
as Mrs. Dickson
Pamela Rabe
as Mrs. Tippler
Marta Dusseldorp
as Helen van Praagh
Lia Scallon
as Mrs. O'Riordan
Marijke Mann
as Mrs. Conje
Clyde Kusatsu
as The Snake
Stan Egi
as Captain Tanaka
David Chung
as Interpreter
Julie Anthony
as Singer at Raffles
Aden Young
as Bill Seary
Paul Bishop
as Dennis Leighton-Jones
Stephen O'Rourke
as William Pargiter
Vincent Ball
as Mr. Dickson
Nicholas Hammond
as Marty Merritt
Noel Ferrier
as Robbie Roberts
Robert Grubb
as Major-General Downes
Steven Grives
as Westmacott
Arthur Dignam
as Mr. Pike
Tanya Bird
as Siobhan O'Riordan
Kitty Clignett
as Sister Anna
Shira Van Essen
as Antoinette van Praagh
Yoshi Adachi
as Mr. Moto
Kristine McAlister
as Matron Heffernan
Jesse Rosenfeld
as Danny Tippler
Phillip Stork
as Michael Tippler
John Elcock
as Seaman Francis
Hamish Urquhart
as Aran O'Riordan
Jemal Blattner
as Older Aran O'Riordan
John Proper
as Captain Murchison
Shigenori Ito
as Doctor Mizushima
Chi Yuen Lee
as Chinese Man
Ping Pan
as Chinese Man
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Critic Reviews for Paradise Road

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (10) | Rotten (11)

  • A large cast of gifted actress, including Glenn Close and Frances McDormand, is largely wasted in Beresford's honroable but failed effort to pay tribute to a group of disparate women held captive by the Japanese in WWII.

    Jun 21, 2007 | Rating: C

    Emanuel Levy

    Top Critic
  • Even with its grueling pageant of torture and abuse at the hands of monstrously inhuman Japanese officers, Road never reaches the heart.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 1.5/4
  • A triumphant celebration of the human spirit in the face of suffering.

    Feb 26, 2002 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Paradise Road

  • Apr 01, 2011
    An excellent recounting of the horror of surviving a Japanese prisoner of war camp during WWII, that put this viewer in mind of "Playing For Time". Glenn Close plays Adrienne Pargiter, the wife of a British diplomat, who becomes the de facto leader of the women incarcerated on Sumatra. Joining her is a marvelous cast, including Frances McDormand (Dr Verstak), Cate Blanchett (Susan McCarthy), Julianna Marguiles (Topsy Merritt), and Pauline Collins (Margaret Drummond). Together, they face the brutality of their captors with dignity and courage and manage to put together a vocal orchestra and present classical music with only their voices. When they begin to sing, I defy the viewing audience to remain dry-eyed! A testament to the strength of the human spirit under the harshest conditions imaginable.
    Mark A Super Reviewer
  • Apr 03, 2009
    How can you give this film anything but 5 Stars. If there is one thing I enjoy about any movie, is the fact that I learned something from it. It is ashamed that it takes 50 years to learn the secrets of a War. There seems to be more and more movies coming out that tell us of these hidden secrets. This is based on a true story. I had no idea that women were held prisoner of war during World War II. All the actors were outstanding. The Human Vocal band was out of this world. And as many captives will tell you, you must band together and work on something to keep your mind from whets really happening. This is a must see and a must add to the collection. 5 stars.
    Bruce B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 08, 2008
    At times, the grueling pageant of torture and abuse became a bit much for me. Still, Paradise Road is a triumphant celebration of the human spirit in the face of suffering.
    Robert F Super Reviewer
  • Jan 10, 2007
    My husband and I both liked this movie about women in a Japanese prison camp.
    Ida K Super Reviewer

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