“Stranger in Paradise” Review ✦✦✦✦✧

2 July, 2017

Director: Guido Hendrikx
Screenwriter: Guido Hendrikx
Starring: Valentijn Dhaenens

Synopsis: A group of asylum seekers from a variety of countries learn a harsh lesson about the realities of migration while being schooled in a Dutch classroom by a teacher who specialises in outlining the multifaceted nature of European immigration policy.

Stranger in Paradise Review:

Written to be abrasive on the ears and taxing on the heart, “Stranger in Paradise” is a biting assessment of Europe’s immigration crisis, navigating all angles with its brutal deconstruction of a catastrophe that just keeps on widening. As political powers clash and Western forces batten down the hatches, the film doubles down on both sides of the argument, presenting an unsolvable issue with the sole purpose of highlighting the unimaginable. Informative and refreshingly multidimensional, “Stranger in Paradise” preaches to opposing choirs as writer-director Guido Hendrikx shapes reality into a bitter re-enactment of an all-too real set of circumstances.

Part documentary, part interpretation, “Stranger in Paradise” places stone-faced actor Valentijn Dhaenens in a position of ultimate power, stripping him of humanity and compassion while equipping him with facts, figures, and an unwavering code of conduct. Momentarily compassionate in the movie’s second segment but ironically detached from the suffering of his assigned test subjects, Dhaenens represents both the best and the worst in a flawed system as asylum seekers huddle around their teacher with the vain hope of future happiness yet their aspirations go unmatched by the realities of their so-called paradise.

Allowing cultural values to viciously collide, “Stranger in Paradise” approaches a variety of controversial topics head-on, highlighting the incompatibility of migrants and Europeans while acknowledging life’s lottery. Refusing to mince words on the topic of religion, sexuality, and economic leeching, the film shows a group out of touch with modernity yet uniquely skilled and driven by the prospect of a better life across an invisible border. In a movie designed to make you look inwards at your own set of ideals and beliefs, Guido Hendrikx finalises his documentary with a conclusive message about the demeaning nature of fly-on-the-wall filmmaking as he painfully acknowledges the uselessness of cinema in the face of complete catastrophe. If anything, the movie is simply a plea for sanity in an era defined by uncertainty.


Review Date
Stranger in Paradise