@The HUB Kampala Thursday, June 27, 2013 @7:30pm
The Austrian divorcee Teresa (Margarethe Tiesel) is 50, overweight (bordering on obese), lonely and in dire need of a vacation. She drops off her sullen, cellphone obsessed daughter at the home of a relative and heads off to Kenya, where she quickly learns that all the young men on the beach selling bracelets and tchotkes are also available for sex. They’re not prostitutes — they don’t talk about prices or time frames — but they willingly jump into bed with women like Teresa and make them feel, at least for a moment, desirable and happy and attractive. Then, invariably, the men say they need money for a sick cousin or child or uncle who is in dire need of surgery or medical treatment. The exchange of sexual favors for cash doesn’t seem quite as sleazy when it’s handled this way, and the middle-class Teresa is practically rich when compared to the impoverished locals. She keeps opening her wallet until it’s empty, then refills it. For a while, Paradise: Love is a fascinating exploration of the thin line between victim and predator: Who is exploiting whom here? Teresa, who talks to her friends about her “fat ass” and her personal grooming habits and is fond of wearing grandly unflattering swimsuits, gets to live out a fantasy of being thin and pretty while these good-looking, muscular men grope her fat, lumpy body. But her suitors, such as the likable and easygoing Munga (Peter Kazungu), turn out to be vampires in disguise, using the illusion of romance and desire to suck as much money as they can out of the unwitting outsiders. (A warning for the prudish: The sex in the film is extremely graphic and worthy of an NC-17 rating.