content by

Katherine Connell

The Price of Perfection in Alice Waddington’s Paradise Hills

Alice Waddington’s first feature film Paradise Hills (2019) begins and ends with the same scene. A golden ballroom is the setting of the palatial wedding reception for Uma (Emma Roberts) and Son (Arnaud Valois). Uma, who wears blue lipstick, a glitzy gown, and a spherical beaded net over her face, looks like a zombified citizen from the Capitol in The Hunger Games. She performs a creepy choreographed song with lyrics that liken marriage to servitude and refer to Son as her “salvation.” The faceless presence of armoured, militarized police indicate that this is no happy ceremony. In their marital chamber, Uma is pliant and dazed. “That place works miracles,” Son remarks, “you were so difficult before.”

“That place” is Paradise, an island recovery facility run by Duchess (Milla Jovovich) where—three months earlier—Uma was sent to become more amenable to Son’s marriage proposal.

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