A few minutes into A Stranger in Paradise, investment banker Josh Pratt (Colin Egglesfield) asks a woman where she would live if she could choose anywhere in the world. After her response, he has a more incisive follow-up: "How come no one ever says the city they live in?" It's an early sign of co-writer-director Corrado Boccia's focus on his characters' inherent dissatisfaction with their lot, one delivered with more subtlety than the montage of nightclubs and city life that opens the film, and is returned to much later on in predictable but effective fashion. But like its avaricious characters -- the plot revolves around Josh's less savory brother getting him mixed up with a Thai crime syndicate -- A Stranger in Paradise overextends itself and tries its hand at set-pieces (chase sequences, interrogations) that are never more than adequate. The paradisiacal setting of the title is Bangkok, which has long served as a go-to location for movies that want to seem exotic without actually doing or showing anything that might be accurately described as such. Not for nothing did Nicolas Winding Refn's Only God Forgives receive a critical drubbing for its tourist's-eye-view of the Thai capital, but it also showed how critical an auteur’s flair is when descending into some beautiful place's seedy underbelly.
Corrado BocciaColin Egglesfield, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Stuart Townsend, Byron Mann, Gary DanielsCorrado Boccia, Taryn HillinFreestyle Releasing