Paradise Grove review
by: Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2005-05-20
Black comedy Paradise Grove stars veteran actor Ron Moody as an 80-year-old looking to kill himself. As the film finally gets its UK cinema release, SJ's Caroline Westbrook wonders whether this is one of the worst Jewish films ever made.
The latest British Jewish comedy to secure a cinema release (following Suzie Gold and Wondrous Oblivion last year) is Paradise Grove, which follows the goings-on in a Jewish old age home as seen through the eyes of truculent resident Izzie Goldberg (Ron Moody).
Goldberg, who lives in the residential home run by his daughter, is about to turn 80 but wants to end his life and die with dignity, rather than become totally dependent on others. He turns to his half-Jewish grandson, who is struggling with his own identity, to help him kill himself.
Paradise Grove, the film debut of director Charles Harris, was around six years in the making and has been sitting on the shelf for some time awaiting a release. It's not hard to see why. This is a black comedy which is worryingly short on laughs and has a very weak screenplay and while it tries hard to be clever and cutting, it fails miserably.
The cast, which also includes Rula Lenska and newcomer Leyland O'Brien, struggle to inject any life into the film and you just end up feeling sorry for them for being involved in it in the first place.
All in all, this is a bit of a shambles that ends up resorting to the same old stereotypes and situations that remind you why Jewish films have been so scarce in Britain over the past decade. With scripts like this floating around, is it any wonder producers shy away from involving themselves in contemporary Jewish themed projects?
Ultimately Paradise Grove tries to shock, but just ends up being shockingly bad.