HIFF 2011: Thoughts on Paradise Broken

Dante Basco and Nadine Nicole star as Ray and Misha, two drug addicts who battle the Waikiki underworld as they try to make their modest dreams come true in Paradise Broken.

I like movies. I guess that goes without saying since I have a movie blog. But just what is it about movies that I like so much? I guess this is something I should have written about already. However, I bring it up now because it relates to my viewing of Paradise Broken so please, bear with me.

Probably one of the biggest reasons why I like movies so much is because they take me to places I’ve never seen and are able to show me things I would never do. Traveling into space on a starship, discovering the Ark of the Covenant, traveling to the past in a DeLorean, working for the mob, and even bringing back dinosaurs . . . watching movies makes all of this is possible. I know, I know, ultimately it’s all fake and a lot of “movie magic.” However, I’d like to think of movies as modern day fables or legends in that some way, they have to be based on some fact or truth, something real or something tangible.

But what happens when a movie takes you somewhere you already are? Somewhere you already live? What then?

That’s the dilemma I encountered while watching Paradise Broken. This wasn’t a movie that took me somewhere I had never been or a place I wouldn’t go. It was here. In Hawaii. In Honolulu. Now, I’ve seen local shows and hell, topics covered in the film can crop up on the news or read in the newspapers. How is all that so different than seeing the protagonists, Ray and Misha, on screen? Like I mentioned earlier, movies aren’t real so why did this feel so different? It’s because, like I said, movies are in some way based on something real.

Getting to the heart of the matter, I didn’t know how to feel about the film and more specifically, how I should feel about what I was watching. Now let’s be clear here, I understood “the plot” of the film, you have a couple with a drug addiction almost at the end of their rope trying to live and trying to survive in Hawaii. I got that. I understood what the stakes were and I wasn’t uncomfortable with that. I don’t consider myself sheltered or privileged, but like anywhere else in the world I know bad things happen here, to all kinds of people. Everything is not like those postcards Ray talks about in the beginning of the film.

It was the fact that these characters could be people I know. They were walking along sidewalks and streets I myself have walked on. How could this not be real? By the end of the film, it definitely had me asking questions like; is the way Hawaii depicted in the film really how it is for some people? Do people live like that? Do people make those kinds of decisions? Sadly I had to come to the conclusion that it might be a possibility.

It’s hard for me to express exactly how I feel about this movie, on the one hand I’m not shocked by what I saw, on the other hand I can’t deny that the film left me feeling a bit unsettled since this was . . . is, home–and that was probably the scariest part.

I’ve always been of the mind that good movies will entertain you, but a great movie will engage and challenge what you think. I don’t want to sound naive, but Paradise Broken definitely made me think about the things we don’t see and that probably do happen so close to home–because of that, this is a film you definitely won’t want to miss.


Paradise Broken makes its world premiere tonight, 9:30pm at the Hawaii International Film Festival. As of this posting tickets are still available.

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