review for Searching For Paradise on AllMovie

Searching For Paradise (2002)
by Josh Ralske review

Myra Paci's Searching for Paradise is an engaging, but ultimately unsatisfying, coming-of-age story. It's difficult for an American independent film to deal with this kind of overly familiar subject matter (an unusually pretty, but antisocial, rebellious, white girl hits the road and learns valuable life lessons) in a way that seems fresh. Paci has an appealing lead actress in Susan May Pratt, but Gilda is so irritatingly self-involved (she's constantly turning her video camera on herself) that it's hard to get emotionally involved in whether or not she achieves her goals. We're more likely to feel the way Adam (Jeremy Davies), a prospective boyfriend, does, and want to wash our hands of her. Chris Noth, who plays the object of Gilda's stalker-like obsession, a pretentious actor named Michael De Santis, brings some depth to the role, and his scenes with Pratt are the strong points of the film, because we're never quite sure where they're going. De Santis has a certain charm, but there's a discomfiting opacity to him. Unfortunately, their encounter climaxes with a melodramatic and unconvincing temporary break with sanity. The film then settles into a calmer and more reflective mode, and salvages some of its appeal, ending on a graceful note.