Director Ol Parker
Screenplay Ol Parker, Daniel Pipski
Starring Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Kaitlyn Dever, Billie Lourd, Maxime Bouttier, Lucas Bravo

Ticket to Paradise is a sweet romantic comedy which is hard to come by these days. It doesn’t have an agenda, beyond giving older couples like my wife and I a reason to spend two hours with each other somewhere she’d usually avoid: the theatre. The pairing of two actors who were in their prime when we met, we were anything but disappointed with how they have aged in the time we have been together.

The story is contrived. A couple long divorced and quite acrimonious find a reason to get back together: keeping their own daughter from marrying too young, like they did. One guess as to what happens…

The essence in a romantic comedy is not that we’re surpised. We know there is only one reason viewers want to see a film where people fall in love. The key, however, is that we believe in the performances. In the case of Ticket to Paradise, everyone it telling the truth with their eyes. That is not an easy thing to fake.

Clooney, for his part, doesn’t have to do much as David Cotton. He just pushes his normal cynicism a bit to the side and adds a bit of snark. For Roberts though, the performance is effortless and real. After a few decades of mostly more serious performances, this viewer forgot how much she can do with her eyes. If anything, she has corralled even more life behind them. One can feel every bit of the life she’s lived in her performance of Georgia Cotton. It has every bit of the nuance that she expresses by the end of Notting Hill, but with every bit of joy and pain she’s been through since.

The performances of the young lovers is every bit as good. As Lily Dever has lost none of the skill she acquired working with Timothy Olyphant in Elmore Leonard’s Justified. Her paramour, Gede is played with a genuine kindness and complexity by Bouttier. Their web of love is intricately expanded with genuine feeling by family members that are created and performed with intelligence and respect. It’s enough to make one want to be adopted by a family in Bali.

Parker puts as much thought and respect into his characters as he has throughout his career. The director of the The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, its sequel and the surprising Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is excellent at handling big casts with complex and believable characters, not caricatures. He makes every location look like somewhere we’d want to live and the people there those with whom we would like to live.

The cast, director and writers all work to express a respect for the material. The resulting story is elevated for the simple fact that no one in front or behind the give the impression that they are above the material.

Topping it off is the location. Every bit as beautiful as Majorca in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Bali is shown as not only paradise, but actually accessible. Who knew one could make such a sustainible living harvesting seaweed?

Ticket to Paradise is a happy surprise. This viewer would not have watched it without it being her suggestion. Now it’s hard to believe we won’t watch it several more times. Together, of course.

(***1/2 out of *****)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s