26 September 2023

Ticket to Paradise

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

Director: Ol Parker, Universal Pictures.

True love is able to surmount most obstacles, or at least, this is the message generated by the resurrection of romantic comedy from British director, producer and screenwriter Ol (Oliver) Parker.

Actually, he co-wrote the story alongside Daniel Pipski especially for Academy Award-winners George Clooney and Julia Roberts. He says, romcoms bring audiences together to collectively laugh with each other, and after a few tough years, that seemed like a beautiful thing to bring to the big screen.

Clooney (Syriana, Argo, Michael Clayton) and Roberts (Erin Brockovich, Pretty Woman, My Best Friend’s Wedding) reunite on the big screen as divorced parents who travel to Bali after learning of their daughter’s sudden plans to get married. The exes – David and Georgia are successful professionals leading defiantly separate lives – find themselves on a shared mission to stop their lovestruck daughter from making the same mistake they made years earlier.

Their only child, Lily (Kaitlyn Dever, Unbelievable, Last Man Standing) has just graduated law school, goes on a holiday and speedily intends to marry a seaweed farmer Gede, (Maxime Bouttier), whom she has just met.

The parents decide to work together to sabotage Lily’s wedding. They reluctantly choose to join forces with the same motivation to “save” their daughter using inane and tacky antics.

We get a glimpse of David and Georgia’s strained relationship on the plane ride over, starting with a refusal to sit next to each other. They were once married for five years, but that was 25 years ago. Now they can’t stand each other – as reinforced a few times by the screenwriters.

However, second chances are in the air because in the process of trying to prevent their daughter from entering an impulsive marriage, they discover that the flame that once ignited their own relationship may not be completely extinguished – after all.

The apprehensions of ageing and emotional remorse are there on screen, minus the infectious interactions, the effortless charm. Roberts had such a shimmering rapport with Clooney in Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s films. Their communication here is more breakable than effervescent.

Perhaps, what Julia Roberts articulates through her character sheds light on reality. “Maybe I’m too old to feel young anymore,” says Georgia. This was said in one of the muted, more deliberative moments later in Ticket to Paradise – disentangling from the forced comedy.

COVID-19 disrupted filming in Bali, but Parker (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel films, Here We Go Again, Mamma Mia!) successfully substituted with principal photography taking place in Queensland. Cinematographer Ole Bratt Birkeland uses creative angles to capture the beauty of Australia’s picturesque Whitsundays!

  • Ticket to Paradise is screening in cinemas

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