Wednesday, July 3, 2024


Paradiset brinner/Paradise is Burning (2023) - Gustafson Screen Shot 2024-07-03 at 10.51.56 AM Screen Shot 2024-07-03 at 9.14.25 AM Screen Shot 2024-07-03 at 9.20.19 AM Screen Shot 2024-07-03 at 9.21.06 AM Screen Shot 2024-07-03 at 9.29.14 AM Screen Shot 2024-07-03 at 9.55.16 AM Screen Shot 2024-07-03 at 9.57.07 AM Screen Shot 2024-07-03 at 10.06.20 AM Screen Shot 2024-07-03 at 10.19.02 AM Screen Shot 2024-07-03 at 10.30.22 AM Screen Shot 2024-07-03 at 10.36.59 AM In the tradition of kitchen sink realism of Andrea Arnold and Lynne Ramsay, Mika Gustafson's feature debut Paradiset brinner paints young sisters trying to survive in working class neighborhood in Sweden. There's a teenager Laura (Bianca Delbravo), the oldest of the sisters and the head of the family and two preteens Mira (Dilvin Asaad) and Steffi (Safira Mossberg), running wild in a household without any parental supervision. Mom's gone since Christmas and dad was never in the picture. Steffi still wets the bed, teething and has tendency to bring stray dogs (and sometimes street kids) home - there's a theme of strays throughout the film, Mira is having her first menstruation and Laura is skipping school and taking care of her younger sisters. Things are tight, so Laura resorts, with the help of her sisters, to stealing things from their neighbors, laundromats, supermarkets, etc. She and her marauding strays/friends constantly break into other people's houses to party and swim in their pools. Laura befriends a bored housewife Hanna (Ida Engvoll), who finds Laura's lawless behavior fascinating and stirring something inside her. Hanna suggests that she wants to tag along when Laura breaks into other people's houses. For Laura, Hanna is an obvious mother figure, needing her company. Their bond deepens.

Laura hides the fact that social services are on them from her younger siblings. She knows that like other friends she knows, the social services will try to separate them and put them in different foster care facilities. She cannot let that happen. As the appointment for a visit from the social services, Laura slowly breaches the subject to Hanna, of pretending to be their mom.

Gustafson gets phenomenal performances out of young actresses. Delbravo's Laura, a girl who's been put in a position to grow up fast is great, as is Asaad and Mossberg who plays Mira and Steffi. They are utterly believable at playing close sisters who put enormous amount of trust in one another. Paradiset brinner brims with vitality and emotional honesty seldom seen in teen/preteen films beautifully captured by Gustafson. A real stunner.