Stranger Than Paradise ★★★★★

Incredibly critical film of America.

I wouldn't say it's a nihilistic film like "Two-lane Blacktop" or "Easy Rider". But, it's a film that throws shade at the "American dream".

Film reminded me of Chantal Akerman's "Je Tu Il Elle": how the film kept fading to black and than transitioning to another time and place (Awesome technique that allows the viewer to piece together the story like a puzzle) - similar technique is used in Ackerman's film. That film like this film also addresses the pervasiveness of Americanism - of liberalism - that has seeped into all walks of life, harboring that sense of freedom; that sense of "paradise" (for use of a better word); that sense of luxury. Only for this so called "dream" to be but an illusion; a false image of something pretending to be something but offering little in return.

When Eddie comments about Cleveland saying it's a beautiful place. That made me laugh, first because Cleveland is probably the most boring and dull place out there; and second because he has never been there. Later when he's asked about Florida, he says something similar - he says that's also beautiful etc. Again - he's never been there. Throughout the film America is essentially presented as a "dull" place. Where this so called "paradise" is anything but paradise. The irony.

Is there something false about the American ideal? I would argue yes, this film does a great job at revealing that nuance. And it's a nuance that's arrived at purely subconsciously, as though we know what the truth is even though we can't articulate or talk about it. Think of when Eva leaves Willie to go to Cleveland. There's a scene where Willie and Eddie meet up after she has left. Now they both know what's happened. They both know that Willie is abit down that she left. Perhaps that's why they break the ice with some cold beers. They don't talk about what they both know is the important topic at that very moment (Eva leaving). And the screen fades to black again.

What I'm trying to hint at, speaking in riddles as I always do, is we all know I reckon that there is something unnatural about the modern world. In that it sells one thing and we get another thing. The dream that we think we are pursuing in most cases isn't what we paid for. When this film ends, I'm not sure if it's a nihilistic ending. I'm not sure if Willie found his way back to Hungary. If he did then maybe he has a better shot there than he ever did in America. What we do know as the film fades out is Eva finds herself back in America. She doesn't leave. That feels nihilistic to me. I'll have to think about this film some more. For now that's all.

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