Gallic telepic “Laura’s Paradise” starts out well, chronicling a young female student’s difficult coming-of-age in astute and stylistically dazzling terms. Midpoint, however, vid-shot pic takes a monotonous downward “Raver Madness” spiral, sans sufficient psychological depth. Helmer Olivier Panchot displays chops worthy of a big-screen future, but curious programmatic choice for San Francisco gay fest (Laura’s latent same-sex desires are never articulated, let alone acted upon) won’t likely travel past limited offshore tube sales.
Titular figure (Sarah Polley-looking Roxane Mesquida) is an 18-year-old whose less-than-stellar grades suggest she might not gain university access –among many sore points nagged at length by her divorced mum (Sophie Mounicot). Fed up, Laura is drawn into the heady lifestyle of older acquaintance Sophie (Coralie Revel), a hard-core partier who introduces her to Ecstacy.
After a spat with ma, Laura moves into Sophie’s flat, living the drugged-out high life while growing romantically enchanted (sans actual sexual contact) with her hedonistic hostess. Sophie proves fickle, however, and a rejected Laura continues partying to excess, solo. It takes waaaay too long for Laura to finally hit bottom, at last leading to a disappointingly trite “I need to go find myself” fade.
Distorted lensing, heightened colors and trippy editing vividly convey disorienting loss of control of serial drug use. But point is hammered into the ground after a while, as Laura spends far too much screen time stumbling pasty-faced and semiconscious through repetitive street and dance floor sequences.
Perfs are solid, design contribs excellent, sound mix a savvy balance of thumping club tracks and deadening silences.