Review: ‘Gran Paradiso’

An enjoyable, if scarcely credible, adventure, "Gran Paradiso" sets eight protags with at least that many dysfunctional qualities among them to climbing an Alpine summit. Inspirational intent is hobbled by scenario's logic gaps, but slick direction, attractive cast and widescreen outdoor splendor make this solid family fare with decent broadcast/cassette potential outside German-speaking territories.

An enjoyable, if scarcely credible, adventure, “Gran Paradiso” sets eight protags with at least that many dysfunctional qualities among them to climbing an Alpine summit. Inspirational intent is hobbled by scenario’s logic gaps, but slick direction, attractive cast and widescreen outdoor splendor make this solid family fare with decent broadcast/cassette potential outside German-speaking territories.

Nineteen-year-old Mark (Ken Duken), recently orphaned and paralyzed from the waist down, is an embittered new arrival at a facility for the mentally handicapped — he’s here because space can’t be found in a more suitable rehab center. Comely new therapist Lisa (Regula Grauwiller) saves him from suicide with the impulsive promise that she’ll get the former athlete up his beloved Alp again. Somehow she gets approval to venture forth with a highly unlikely crew: two mentally handicapped patients, three incarcerated juvenile felons (who look much older), gurney-bound Mark and an adult mountaineer. Internal strife, natural hazards, romantic conflict and a couple of gratuitously nasty pro climbers provide challenges. Script does little to render outlandish story believable, but first-time feature helmer Miguel Alexandre’s smooth pacing, likable perfs and handsome lensing add up to a glossy diversion.

Gran Paradiso

Germany

Production

A Warner Bros. presentation of a Letterbox Filmproduktion in co-production with Monty Filmgesellschaft and Warner Bros. Filmproduktion, in association with Cinemedia. Produced by Henrik Meyer. Executive producer, Verena Herfurth. Directed by Miguel Alexandre. Screenplay, Georg Heinzen.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Peter Indergand; editor, Inge Behrens; music, Dominic Roth; production designer, Kirsten Garbade. Reviewed at World Film Festival, Montreal (World Cinema), Aug. 28, 2000. Running time: 106 MIN.

With

Ken Duken, Regula Grauwiller, Gregor Torzs, Max Herbrechter, Frank Giering, Erhan Emre, Alexander Horbe, Antje Westermann.
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