×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Paradise Falls

Bonnie and Clyde" on a budget, "Paradise Falls" reps an impressive, if rough-hewn, feature debut. Set in the rural American South during the Depression, this co-winner of the best picture award at the Hollywood Film Festival is a textured tale of lives riven by economic hardship and desperation that leads to lawlessness.

With:
Henry Bancroft - Sean Bridgers Oshel Hooper - Christopher Berry Jake Kyler - Nick Searcy Bert Kyler - Sonny Shroyer Clarice Kyler - Claire Eye Mrs. Bancroft - Judy Simpson Cook Sissy Bancroft - Chloe Searcy Mr. Bancroft - Roger Bright Rachel Smithers - Tara Chase Thompson

Bonnie and Clyde” on a budget, “Paradise Falls” reps an impressive, if rough-hewn, feature debut. Set in the rural American South during the Depression, this co-winner of the best picture award at the Hollywood Film Festival is a textured tale of lives riven by economic hardship and desperation that leads to lawlessness. While the filmmakers make much of their locations and story, the film cannot overcome its modest resources and absence of marquee names, which will put a definite crimp on its commercial potential. Its qualities indicate niche theatrical bookings, but pic’s primary revenue will come from small-screen sales.

The basic scenario charts familiar terrain. In the mountains of North Carolina in 1934, the people with small farms are having a difficult time getting by. With banks foreclosing on their properties, people are moving to big cities. It all seems like a nightmare that happens only to others; few see disaster coming until it’s too late.

Henry Bancroft (Sean Bridgers) and Oshel Hooper (Christopher Berry) are farmers’ sons with more dreams than prospects. Oshel’s disillusionment stems from more than just failed crops: His father died during the first world war, and he views society as chaotic and spins wild yarns of robbing the rich (or their minions) and giving back to “the people” to right the balance. It’s only when Henry realizes that his father’s farm is about to be taken over by the bank that he starts to take his buddy’s cant seriously.

One of the things that sets “Paradise Falls” apart from a legion of 1930s bank robber sagas is the manner in which it presents the evolution of these would-be felons. Neither of its principals has the faintest idea how to proceed, yet they push each other’s buttons in such a way that creates momentum.

There’s nothing grand or operatic about the piece. The dirt is real and the plots, heists and getaways are straightforward. This twosome will continue until someone gets shot.

The script by Sean Bridgers and Sue Ellen Bridgers is grim, simple and strangely poetic. Director Nick Searcy manages to make virtues of a low budget. His amateur and semi-pro cast has a direct manner that feels authentic, imbuing the pic with the sense of a bygone era. He also has a deft way of incorporating locations into the drama that are both functional and unusual.

Paradise Falls

(PERIOD DRAMA)

Production: A Maceo Prods. presentation. Produced by Sean Bridgers, Nick Searcy, Peter Wentworth. Directed by Nick Searcy.

Crew: Screenplay, Sean Bridgers, Sue Ellen Bridgers. Camera (color), Mark Petersen; editor, Robert F. Landau; music, the Red Clay Ramblers; production designer, Jamie Arbuckle; set decorator, May Winiar-ski; costume designer, Susan Brown Strauss; sound, Jeff Bloomer; associate producer, Ben O. Bridgers; assistant director, Edward Keil Bowen. Reviewed at Hollywood Film Festival, Aug., 8, 1998. Running time: 101 MIN.

With: Henry Bancroft - Sean Bridgers Oshel Hooper - Christopher Berry Jake Kyler - Nick Searcy Bert Kyler - Sonny Shroyer Clarice Kyler - Claire Eye Mrs. Bancroft - Judy Simpson Cook Sissy Bancroft - Chloe Searcy Mr. Bancroft - Roger Bright Rachel Smithers - Tara Chase Thompson

More Film

  • MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r)

    Submissions Now Welcome for Third 'Meet the Press' Film Festival

    Chuck Todd’s quest to bring “Meet the Press” to the movies continues. The third annual Meet the Press Film Festival, held in collaboration with the American Film Institute, will take place on October 6 and 7 in Washington, D.C., and remains a haven for issue-focused documentary shorts. Todd believes the event serves a critical mission: [...]

  • Challenges Still Keep Content From Traveling

    Cannes: Challenges Still Keep Content From Traveling to and From China

    Challenges still remain when it comes to buying, distributing and producing content that can travel between China and the West, attendees of a panel organized by the Shanghai Intl. Film Festival on the sidelines of Cannes said. Cai Gongming, president of Road Pictures, has hit box office gold in China with Cannes art-house titles such [...]

  • 180423_A24_Day_03B_0897.jpg

    Cannes Film Review: Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe in 'The Lighthouse'

    “The Lighthouse,” the second feature directed by Robert Eggers (“The Witch”), is a gripping and turbulent drama that draws on a number of influences, though it merges them into its own fluky gothic historical ominoso art-thriller thing. Set in the 1890s, and suffused with foghorns and epic gusts of wind, as well as a powerfully [...]

  • Cannes: Diao Yinan Explains His Artistic

    Diao Yinan on Cannes Pic 'Wild Goose Lake': 'I Try to Portray the Opposite of a Utopia'

    In competition in Cannes with “Wild Goose Lake,” director Diao Yinan explained Sunday why he’s fascinated by dark crime thrillers – and why his new film features dialogue in China’s Wuhan dialect. “Such thrillers are not only an exercise in style; they’re also full of dramatic tension, and when you combine style with dramatic tension, [...]

  • CAP D'ANTIBES, FRANCE - MAY 18:

    Cannes: Robert Pattinson, Shailene Woodley Attend Starry Vanity Fair Party

    It’s true what they say about Batman being a loner. On Saturday night, Robert Pattinson made his first public appearance since being cast as the new Dark Knight at this year’s Vanity Fair Party at the Cannes Film Festival. But while all the other A-list guests mingled and worked the crowd at the restaurant of [...]

  • 180423_A24_Day_03B_0897.jpg

    Robert Pattinson: 'The Lighthouse' Rehearsal Was a 'Pressure Cooker'

    Rehearsal for director Robert Eggers’ “The Lighthouse” wasn’t as long as Robert Pattinson remembers. “I’ve never rehearsed like I rehearsed with Robert before,” Pattinson said at the first screening of the period thriller on Sunday morning. “We rehearsed for what, three weeks?” Actually, no — it was only one week! “One, but it felt like [...]

  • FilmSharks Scores Global Sales, Remake Rights

    FilmSharks Scores Intl. Sales-Remake Rights for Fernando Spiner’s ‘Immortal’

    Guido Rud’s Buenos Aires-based FilmSharks International has acquired global sales and remake rights to renowned Latin American genre director Fernando Spiner’s latest feature “Immortal,” which participated in this year’s Blood Window Showcase at the Cannes Film Market. Included in the deal, FilmSharks also picked up Spiner’s sci-fi catalog which includes “Sleepwalker” and “Adiós querida luna.” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content