"Strangers in a Strange City"
What You Need To Know:
It is obvious that SURVIVING PARADISE is a low-budget movie. The acting leaves much to be desired, with poor timing and unconvincing performances. Part of this is due to the bad dialogue. Arman Abedini’s portrayal of Sam saves the movie. The adventures of the children are more satisfying to watch than the foolish escapades of the mother and the ruffians. Finally, the movie’s unnecessary use of profanities is disturbing, as well as the incongruities which left the story with many unanswered questions
(H, B, LL, V, M) Humanist worldview seen through the innocent, unprejudiced eyes of two young Iranian children, with elements of courtesy, kindness & morality; 7 obscenities & 9 profanities; several scenes of men threatening to shoot others, several scenes of mother being slapped in the face by her captors & man shot in street; no sex; no nudity; and, kidnapping.
Kamshad Kooshan’s film debut, SURVIVING PARADISE, is a well-intentioned movie with some positive messages that doesn’t live up to its potential.
The movie opens with an Iranian mother leaving her husband and taking her two children, Sam, 10, and Sara, 8, to Los Angeles. The mother married in the United States and the children grew up in Boston, but the movie never makes clear why they returned to Iran. As soon as they arrive at the L.A. airport, the mother is kidnapped by two bungling thugs who mistake her for the wife of a Persian antique dealer. One of the movie’s many unbelievable moments occurs while the mother is walking through a crowded airport significantly ahead of her children and looking back only once before she is accosted.
The children are left panic and scared. They are brought to a police station where an officer tells them that a social worker will come to get them while they seek their mother. Another incredible moment unfolds as the children are left completely alone in the police station. Remembering their mother talking about their uncle living somewhere downtown, Sam and Sara take off to look for him.
What follows is Sam and Sara’s experiences in the city as they try to track down their uncle while the mother attempts to escape captivity from her inept kidnappers. The adventures of the children are more satisfying to watch than the foolish escapades of the mother and the ruffians.
It is obvious from the beginning that this is a low-budget movie. The acting leaves much to be desired, with poor timing and unconvincing performances. Arman Abedini’s portrayal of Sam saves the movie. In defense of the actors, however, the dialogue does not give them much substance. Also, at times the camera would be shaky and unsteady, while at other times the filming was smooth.
SURVIVING PARADISE does have some satisfying moments. The director, who also wrote the movie, makes an effort to give meaning to the movie. The most enjoyable scenes are the ones that demonstrate the unprejudiced nature of the children. The attempts of a black family to help Sam and Sara are heartwarming, as well as the depiction of the Iranian family that helps find their uncle. The life lesson of accepting all humans regardless of their ethnicity is a good one. The movie also points out the importance of a parent’s teachings as they are remembered by their children. There is no mention of religion or prayer in the movie, however. Finally, the movie’s unnecessary use of some profanities is disturbing, as well as the incongruities in the story which left the movie with many unanswered questions.