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Artificial Paradises

There's about as much depth as it sounds like there should be in Brazilian-Dutch co-production "Artificial Paradises," a two-ships-passing-in-the-night romance.

Cast:
With: Nathalia Dill, Luca Bianchi, Livia de Bueno, Bernardo Melo Barreto, Cesar Cardadeiro, Divana Brandao, Cadu Favero, Erom Cordeiro, Roney Villela, Emilo Orciollo Neto, Mathias Gottfried, Yan Cassall. (Portuguese, English dialogue)

There’s about as much depth as it sounds like there should be in Brazilian-Dutch co-production “Artificial Paradises,” a two-ships-passing-in-the-night romance between two rave-scene regulars that features plenty of sun, sex, skin, drugs, colored lights and heavy bass. Marcos Prado’s glossy debut feature is an exercise in eye- and ear-candy likely to please undiscriminating younger auds, and should prove commercially viable for a degree of theatrical exposure and wider home-format sales in various territories.

The script cuts back and forth over a few years’ span. Its present tense finds the two protags on different courses: Erika (Nathalia Dill) is raising a young son alone in Europe while globe-trotting as a successful DJ. Back in Brazil, Nando (Luca Bianchi) is just out of prison after a drug-running sentence, rudderless and disillusioned, but still trying to keep his little bro Lipe (Cesar Cardadeiro) from tumbling down the same rabbit hole.

Not long ago, however, Erika and Nando had been making beautiful music together in Amsterdam; some time before that, they’d had a druggy first meeting at a seaside music festival, during which fateful time her best friend (Livia de Bueno) fatally overdosed and his father accidentally drowned during an annual family trip Nando had skipped to go partying.

Despite this modicum of plot complication and some late melodrama involving Lipe with drug smugglers, there’s scant danger that substance will get in the way of “Paradise’s” escapist pleasures. The predictable ending is necessitated by convention rather than any palpable chemistry, though the leads are personable enough.

The package itself is shiny and colorful, with solid tech/design contributions. Occasionally diverse soundtrack choices provide a welcome respite from recurrent walls of interchangeable booty-shaking rhythms.

Artificial Paradises

Brazil-Netherlands

Production: A Zazen production in association with Globo Filmes. (International sales: Zazen, Rio de Janiero.) Produced by Jose Padiha. Executive producer, Tereza Gonzalez. Directed by Marcos Prado. Screenplay, Cristiano Gualda, Pablo Padilla, Marcos Prado.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Luis Carvalho; editor, Quito Ribeiro; music, Rodrigo Coelho, Gustavo MM; production designer, Claudio Amaral Peixoto; costume designer, Claudia Kopke; sound, Alessandro Laroca, Eduardo Virmond Lima, Armando Torres Jr.; casting, Fatima Toledo. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (Focus on World Cinema), Aug. 31, 2012. (Also in Rotterdam, Seattle, Tribeca film festivals.) Running time: 96 MIN.

With: With: Nathalia Dill, Luca Bianchi, Livia de Bueno, Bernardo Melo Barreto, Cesar Cardadeiro, Divana Brandao, Cadu Favero, Erom Cordeiro, Roney Villela, Emilo Orciollo Neto, Mathias Gottfried, Yan Cassall. (Portuguese, English dialogue)

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