NIGHTSTREAM 2021- “After Blue (Dirty Paradise)” May Be Too Otherworldly: Film Review

Even though the film was created by a French production company, After Blue (Dirty Paradise) does not feel from this Earth. Director Bertrand Mandico forges a new world that is rich with history, unique landscapes, and a slew of societal rules and norms. However, so much of this independent feature is devoted to exploring the foreign environment that character development and narrative cohesion begin to fall by the wayside.

Set in a alternate near future, humanity has fled our dying Earth and found a new paradise on a planet deigned After Blue. Unfortunately, the conditions of this new world are lethal to men, which results in an entirely female population, complete with strict rules on commerce, violence, and nomadism. Such is the world that Roxy, a genetically created teenager, inhabits. Her feelings of awkwardness and loneliness compel her to free a mysterious and dangerous imprisoned woman, Kate Bush. This aiding and embedding forces Roxy on the run from the law and across the psychedelic world of After Blue.

Roxy’s journey through After Blue is full of unique colorful environments. Hues of orange, purple, and blue make up the original vegetation and structures of After Blue. For a low budget independent film, After Blue (Dirty Paradise)’s crafts are impeccable and rival that of a multi-million dollar feature. The mood of the world of After Blue (Dirty Paradise) is right up there with cult classics The Dark Crystal and David Lynch’s Dune (1984).

The world of After Blue (Dirty Paradise) is hypnotic and alluring but the development of Roxy and the narrative throughline can occasionally take one out of the film. Roxy’s sexual awakening in an oppressive world is fascinating in the first third, but as her journey continues, the focus shifts to the teen attempting to discover the mystery of Kate Bush. The problem is that Kate Bush is exactly like the glitter that adorns her body- beautiful and eye-catching, but lacking any substance.

After Blue (Dirty Paradise) is the shining example for just how feasible it now is to create rich, visually stunning worlds on the silver screen with a small budget. Sometimes though, like in this film’s case, the world becomes so alive that any attempt to tell a intimate story in it fails to do this alien creation justice.

The Silver Lining

The creation of After Blue’s environments is essential to the film’s overall appeal. Production designer Thomas Salabert has created sets that feel as though they exist beyond what is shown on the silver screen. The deformed trees and greenery, the rocky caves, Roxy’s bare bones home; all of it contributes to the tight knit nature of society on After Blue. Additionally, the decision to use weather effects like snow and fog cloud many scenes is just enough that the audience cannot notice the low budget nature of the props and sets.

Virtual tickets for After Blue (Dirty Paradise) are still available as part of NIGHTSTREAM 2021 till October 13th. Purchase your tickets here!

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