After Blue (Dirty Paradise) is the second feature for director and writer Bertrand Mandico. I had the experience of watching his first feature The Wild Boys (Les garçons sauvages) at the AFFFF 2019 and having seen that I felt I had to see After Blue.
After Blue (Dirty Paradise) is set on another planet, the film begins with a little exposition, in a style that reminded me a lot of 80s’/90s’ fantasy films. This style continues throughout the film and is something I found quite nostalgic. We are introduced to the main character Roxy (Paula Luna) explaining how she has a big head so died her hair blonde to be more inconspicuous… yes it makes little sense, little of this film will.
She goes on to explain how the earth was ruined and so they came to this new planet for a fresh start, and decided to not use technology (for some reason, although they still have neon signs, plasma balls and street lamps everywhere) other than for hunting. All the men who came to this new planet died as their hair grew on the inside and killed them all off, and all the women now need to make sure they don’t get too hairy too, so they laser shave (I forgot to mention the laser shavers).
After this exposition, the story begins with Roxy (known by some as Toxic for some reason) and some other girls who she calls friends, even though they seem to dislike her (I mean the name they use for her is Toxic…) hanging out on the beach shooting their Gucci rifle (yep). While dancing around in barely any clothes, shooting guns and being carefree girls, they find a head on the beach that they think is rotting. It turns out that it’s a women buried neck deep in the sand. She introduces herself as Kate Bush (yes…) who promises Roxy three wishes if she sets her free. A pretty sweet deal she thinks, so after about a minute she obliges, essentially opening Pandora’s box.
Roxy and her mother Zora (Elina Löwensohn) are taken aside by the elders/council members and told they must hunt Kate Bush (played by Agata Buzek) down or they will be exiled forever and her mother, the town’s laser hairdresser, will lose her laser shave studio. Thus begins a long (and erotic) trek for Roxy and Zora and the mysterious landscapes and characters they meet along the way. In particular, a larger portion of the film involves the gun toting artist Sternberg (played by Vimala Pons) and her Mandroid, Olgar 2 (Michaël Erpelding).
After Blue (Dirty Paradise) is visually striking and quite beautiful, it oozes in B grade 80s/90s fantasy/sci-fi, from the high contrast colours, neon and plasma balls, filters over landscapes to make them seem more alien than they are. One of the great things to see in After Blue (Dirty Paradise) is how a huge amount of the film is done with practical sets (set design by Toma Baquéni), props and lighting compared to digital, a bit of a rarity in this age.
Aside from the beautiful practical sets and props, I’m pretty sure that some effects were done digitally and this is a great example of how to mix practical and digital effects well, they both definitely have their place. There are neon effects added to characters, and exaggerated glints and flares, and they really fit well here, I am impressed and thankful that the choices on the visuals for this film were made and I feel they were made for the right reasons, it’s visually very impressive and I commend the crew for their effects and decisions.
Sadly, considering how interesting the story could have been, how visually appealing it is, the fact that there are attractive women getting in touch with their sexuality constantly and there are breasts everywhere, I somehow found myself bored, after about an hour in I was praying for something to happen other than another 5 or 10 minutes of women kissing and touching themselves or others or phallus shaped objects. Unfortunately, not much happens in this film other than that.
I feel it had great premise and a solid foundation for a story was in there somewhere but instead it was used as a stage for nudity and eroticism, and not much else. Just to clarify here, I’m not a prude, but I prefer to watch film for the story telling, acting, emotions. Rather than to see pretty women mud fight until they kiss. As a result, I consider After Blue (Dirty Paradise) more of an art-piece rather than a film, there’s not much of a story here, and crumbs that are here are used as vessels and distractions from why this isn’t being shown in an art gallery or in an obscure section of the soft-core porn genre at a rental site or something.
If you want to make a drinking game out of this one, I suggest playing “find the phallus” as I’m certain there is a penis hidden in everyone scene, sometimes very obviously (looking at you random penis like plant covered in a sticky white substance that a character “accidentally” runs into and then for some reason decides to sort of rub her face all over it) and some harder to spot, it will really help dealing with the 10 minutes between fondle sessions where you are bored and waiting for something to happen.
If you want to watch soft-core porn with your friends but don’t want to say “hey, let’s watch some soft-core porn together“, this might be a good option, and if anyone says to you during the film “hey, is this soft-core porn?” you can just say, “what’s wrong with you, this is art, not smut“.
After Blue (Dirty Paradise) is more art than film, and art being so subjective I can see reviews for this film going either the way of 1 or 5 stars, I assume people with struggle to find a middle ground with their feelings on it.
It gets 2 croissants out of 5 from me, it would be 1 but I greatly respect and appreciate the visuals and the fact that as far as I can tell, a huge amount of the set/world building is done with practical effects not digital, which I really commend them for.
Bruce Bordelais watched After Blue (Dirty Paradise) via an online screener.
After Blue (Dirty Paradise) is showing at the Fantastic Film Festival in Melbourne and Sydney
To find out when and where the film is showing: https://www.fantasticfilmfestival.com.au/films/after-blue-dirty-paradise
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