Paradise Road: Chick Flick

[Screenshot]Sometimes the Netflix recommendation engine wins, and sometimes it loses. I went into Paradise Road not really knowing what to expect. I left with the vague feeling that I’d watched an upbudget, name-actor version of a Lifetime Original Movie. It has an awful lot of heartwarming and inspirational themes: music, sisterhood of women, perseverence in the face of atrocity. It has a lot of ingredients for success (solid story, talented actors, high production values) but somehow the film as a whole feels sort of hollow at the middle, more sentimental than actually emotional. I enjoyed it when I was watching it, but I just didn’t feel moved.

Part of the premise of the story seemed a bit farfetched to me—how many European civilian women were there in Singapore?—but it’s based on a true story, so the answer to that question is apparently “more than I realized”. I don’t know how closely it’s based on a true story, though. One thing this movie did succeed in getting me to think about was that World War II was an extraordinarily atypical war in terms of civilian detention. War is frequently hard on civilians—if an army takes territory, all the civilians there have to find somewhere else to live—but traditionally militaries have regarded detaining civilians as a rather ineffectual use of manpower and would just as soon kill their conquests (if particularly cruel) or leave them to their own devices after destroying or possessing their hoems. But World War II saw a lot of civilians imprisoned: the Nazi concentration camps, the Japanese prison camps, and even, lest we think the Allies were saints, the American internment camps. A question which Paradise Road failed to answer, and to which I don’t even know the answer, is why the Japanese were detaining civilians who, left to their own devices, would trouble the Japanese no more. That would have interested me more than a hollow-feeling inspirational story.

See also: IMDB, Wikipeida.

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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