Reviewing HURT BY PARADISE, the new film by Greta Bellamacina
and Robert Montgomery (Sulk Youth Films 2020)
Women in film. Women as film: Their drama,
As a journey resembling some of Sylvia Plath’s
Plight is pictured in Greta Bellamacina’s new film.
In which a young Poetess writes through her perfect
Page and son, Jimi, her special means of becoming;
Surviving, to find the wounded light that stays stunning
While shaping word clay in love’s kiln. Here, then, is an
Alternative life for us all as a well lit path attains shadow;
As pressure rises blood’s Angel pushes each expectant
Skin to the sky as a way to reveal how paradise is both
Bled and bettered when it is fought for, unearthing
And even birthing new heavens, in both deed and gesture,
Often without knowing why. Two friends joined at the soul,
Stella and Greta’s Celeste sidestep stages. Each seeks a path
To love through the poem, the acting stage and the screen:
Acts of twin soldiery in the female sense, as women remain
Life’s true fighters, with God as a girl sent to guide them
As they try to evaluate and then measure what the art
Of the heart truly means. This is a film that has been
Structured into verses, with life itself as the poem
That Greta’s graced version of the girl she might have been
Aims to write. She seeks recognition and place and claws
At the vacated space of her father, who has been missing
Perhaps in inaction, yet she yearns to land and retrieve
His lost flight. This she does with her friend, as a finer
Family model. ‘To raise a child it’s two women that you
Definitely need,’ And no men. And yet even this magic
Union strains when the special sacrifice is soon tested,
And Sadie Brown’s Stella, with her fulsome charms risks
Defence. Her online man, ‘Roman’ builds an absent empire
From her wanting. Even as she directs herself to it she still
Remains a true friend. Taking the child on and in as
A spiritual second Mother, despite his rage at the door
One torn morning when Greta/Celeste chases sense.
For this is a story of sense and sensibility also.
The pride and the poem within the efforts we make
the gathering whirlpool Celeste charts
With handsome Harry the Pilot, played by partner and husband
Robert Montgomery, as love’s morsel and as the beef
And cheesecake too, that won’t do. Here then, is a real
Women’s film to do with the magic that’s made by each
Female. When Stella forgoes an audition to babysit Jim,
Hurt’s a jewel and the paradise that stays chaste
And chased across this sad but still comic landscape
Lays in that special sea few men fathom and which rhymes
With love around Margate where the final ascent attains fuel.
But before that, London in all of its empty glory. Fitzrovia,
Gleaming despite depleted streets now unrhymed.
And poetry as a theme and active means of solution
In which the verse read and quoted flows like desire
Embued with the scent and flavour of hope’s fruitful
Wine. This is something that only real Love can taste
And we see that parallel in this picture. When Celeste
Meets her friend Lori and her girlfriend Tessa, it is in fact
Stella with her equal love who’s defined. As the threat
Of drift arcs like the stain of sun lost to water, Celeste’s
Search for her father and Stella for her man makes
The rhyme. The vindications each needs and the validations
Within them crest the howl and the humour that metres
Within this film’s time. It is in fact, a new Woodfall film,
Some fifty years on, alongside stanza’d Curtis. Love, actually
Measured by the loneliness of the long distance pram pusher
And by the water within the wept line. Greta Bellamacina
Acts and directs with passion and precision, and also a freedom,
Within the artful frame that enchants. We see the steel and lace
In her gaze, as she heightens her world, like a poem, which
She duly softens as she imagines love’s lost lines through
Hope’s stance. We dream about personal completion, always,
And this is why we create, let’s be honest. For that soft aim
The heart hardens and also weathers away, hourly. In this
Lovely film the sun stings and the rain is just a reminder
Of the wounds from which we recover, for even as the scar
Remains we stay free. Hurt By Paradise touches all, and shows
How a certain form of striving soothes struggle. It is a breath
Of air in a tunnel that for far too long has felt closed. With poetry
As the means to find the light set to shape us, this gentle gift
Has been offered to solve all of the things we don’t know.
It is a new kind of film. A formal experiment that has bubbled.
It is a special way to tell stories and to guide us perhaps
Past the signs that say ‘Do Not Want More!’ and ‘Seek
Only the Shallow!’ Poetry is the magic in the mundane
Greta tells us. Well here, the flick of the wrist conjures
Writing that aims to distill the sublime.
With joyous songs from Benny Bellamacina as well as
A Hip Indie Soundtrack, this Paradise will not hurt us.
For a melancholy warmed can still heal us.
And it can reveal us too.
David Erdos September 15th 2020