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.