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Return to Paradise starring Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche and Joaquin Phoenix

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Return to Paradise, starring Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche and Joaquin Phoenix

Return to Paradise, starring Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche and Joaquin Phoenix

Sheriff (Vince Vaughn), Lewis (Joaquin Phoenix) and Tony (David Conrad) are three  pals who take a vacation in Malaysia. Enjoying the scene and getting a little high don’t seem like a bad idea. Tony and Sheriff need to get back to New York. They don’t hear from Lewis for a while…

Lewis is in big trouble. Drug possession is a major crime in Malaysia and he has been caught with all their drugs. Now he is facing death sentence, and being kept in prison under the most primitive conditions. Lewis’s lawyer Beth (Anne Heche) comes to New York to track the two friends down, because there is a chance to save Lewis. Since the some of the drugs were theirs, Malaysian court will not hang Lewis if they come back and admit to their crime. They will each get three years and then get their freedom back. If only one of them goes, he will get six years. However they see what an awful shape he is in through the video records. He is bordering on the verge of insanity. Now David and Sheriff have a life-altering dilemma. Should they go back, plead guilty and suffer the same conditions? Lewis seems like a lost cause and do they want to go through the same treatments and conditions? But if they don’t, their friend will be hung- because of a crime they helped commit. Beth has a very short time frame- 8 days- to persuade the two, and David has a fiancée (Vera Farmiga) that seems quite determined to keep David out of prison. Things also get more complicated as Beth and Sheriff seem to feel an attraction and connection towards each other…

It is one of the most haunting and thought-provoking movies I have seen and I find the script quite original and brilliant. The dilemma in itself is perfect. Can you risk losing 3 or 6 years of your life, trusting a government whose willing to hang a man for possessing drugs? And by drugs, we are not talking about heroin, but hashish. How much do they love their friend? But on the other hand, they are at fault as well. And by not giving up their freedom for a certain period of time, they will have caused their friend’s death. So which will it be? The agony of spending time in a jail that is disturbing enough to make their friend into someone they don’t recognize? Or will they live with the guilt for the rest of their lives?

It is an excellent what if question. The question is awfully difficult and the choices are terribly unpleasant. It is easy to say you’d of course go and help your friend, and claim you’d do the right thing, but we don’t really know if we could do it, if/when push happened to come to shove. David suffers from it. Sheriff suffers from it. The existence of dilemma makes the characters to go through a conflict. It will also show them who they really are. Beth’s situation isn’t that easy either, especially after she starts to fall for Sheriff.

The acting is just intense enough. The characters are not over or underplayed. It is one of those movies that glue you to your seat without any action scenes. If any of you have taken a disliking towards Vince Vaughn because of the same type of fast-talking comedic characters he seems to play too often (Old School, Wedding Crashers, Mr. and Mrs. Smith), this movie is going to persuade you that he can act. In fact, this one is the first movie I have ever seen Vince Vaughn and I’ll always be a fan. I wish he could make more movies like this. And it is no secret that Joaquin Phoenix (The Gladiator, Walk the Line, Quills) is a great actor. Even though he is the younger brother of the deceased River Phoenix, I always seem to make the mistake of thinking Joaquin as the older one, since River died at the age of 23. Talented family.

Anyhow, please make time to see this film. It’s modest yet powerful. It’s worth it.

Wedding Crashers Review: http://pinartarhan.com/blog/wedding-crashers/

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