Return to Paradise


Action / Drama / Romance / Thriller

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 70% · 44 reviews
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 74% · 5K ratings
IMDb Rating 6.9/10 10 15466 15.5K


Top cast

Vera Farmiga as Kerrie
Vince Vaughn as Sheriff
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1 GB
English 2.0
Subtitles us  
23.976 fps
1 hr 51 min
Seeds 6
2.06 GB
English 5.1
Subtitles us  
23.976 fps
1 hr 51 min
Seeds 9

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by pied 8 / 10

Riveting performances; unexpected twists!

This well acted, intense drama is worth seeing on two counts:

1) The excellent performances by Lewis (Phoenix) and Beth (Ann Heche)

2) The uncompromising and original plot.

Three young men decide to party in Malaysia, leaving one of them, a Greenpeace activist, behind after two years. He is sentenced to hang for a drug charge; only his two friends who have returned to America can save him.

Not a car chase in sight, but the tension is high. The unexpected, emotion-filled ending is both gratifying and sad. I recommend this film with eight (8) stars.

Reviewed by Hey_Sweden 7 / 10

Chalk up another creditable performance for Joaquin Phoenix.

An Americanization of a 1990 French film called "Force Majeure", "Return to Paradise" tells a pretty straightforward story. Three young friends - Sheriff (Vince Vaughn), Tony (David Conrad), and Lewis (Joaquin Phoenix) - meet while vacationing in Malaysia. Lewis stays behind while the other two go home to America. Then, two years later, an attorney, Beth (Anne Heche), seeks out Sheriff and Tony to let them know that Lewis was jailed for possession of hashish (which actually belonged to all three of them). He's now due to be hanged, and Beth implores Sheriff and Tony to return to Malaysia and share in the blame in order to save their friends' life.

"Return to Paradise" isn't always consistently compelling - the romance between Sheriff and Beth doesn't work as well as the rest. But the film is pretty powerful in its best moments, spinning a fairly intelligent yarn about human responsibility, about owning up to ones' decisions and mistakes in life. It also deals with loyalty & friendship, the willingness to do anything to save someones' life, and the inadequacy of an oppressive prison system. It may have its viewers asking themselves the same question: would they be willing to put their lives on hold, and endure a depressing prison sentence, in order to help out a friend? In the case of Sheriff, it furthermore illustrates the idea that some of us do undervalue ourselves and underestimate our own strength of character.

The picture is directed with sensitivity and eloquence by Joseph Ruben, the veteran filmmaker who'd started out in exploitation films of the 1970s and graduated to things like "Dreamscape", "The Stepfather", "Sleeping with the Enemy", and "The Good Son" as his career went on. The performances are superb right down the line, although the Jada Pinkett Smith character, an aggressive reporter, may end up angering some viewers. Vera Farmiga has one of her earlier roles as Tony's concerned fiancee; Raymond J. Barry appears unbilled as Sheriffs' father. Phoenix is a standout as the sensitive, nature-loving do-gooder who wins audience sympathy quickly.

Although some viewers may feel that a climactic revelation a half hour from the end is not necessary, it does help the audience to understand just why a particular character is so determined to save poor Lewis.

A good film that never really did get its due 22 years ago, this is worth rediscovering nowadays.

Seven out of 10.

Reviewed by wes-connors 5 / 10

From Morality Tale to Love Story

In Malaysia, three men have fun fornicating with local women, drinking booze and smoking hashish. When their extended vacation ends, limo driver Vince Vaughn (as John "Sheriff" Volgecherev) and architect David Conrad (as Tony Croft) return to New York. Environmentally conscious Joaquin Phoenix (as Lewis "Lew" McBride) decides to stay and work with endangered orangutans. Two years later, Mr. Vaughn is approached by attractive blonde lawyer Anne Heche (as Beth McBride). She tells Vaughn that, after he left Malaysia, local police arrested Mr. Phoenix for drug possession...

Phoenix has spent two years in prison and will be hanged in eight days. However, if Vaughn returns to serve his "share" of the time, Phoenix will be permitted to live. Also, if Ms. Heche can get both Vaughn and Mr. Conrad to return to Malaysia and serve time in prison, they can split the six year sentence; then, each man is expected to serve three years. Since Phoenix has already served two years, perhaps the Vaughn and Conrad should also serve two...

Of course, this is an absurd scenario. By offering this deal, the Malaysian authorities have acknowledged Phoenix is not solely responsible for the crime (or a drug "dealer"). They accept the three men were partners; apparently; they only question whether or not Phoenix's friends will appear in court. When considering their options, Vaughn and Conrad should have decided to immediately involve US diplomats and officials in this blatantly dubious proposal...

Since we're expected to buy the premise, we are watching to see whether Vaughn and Conrad accept their responsibility. Phoenix has a fun role for an actor, act like a stoner and become slightly unhinged in prison. Conrad gets to telegraph inner conflicts, but he and Phoenix are not the focus. Vaughn is really the leading player, with Heche his co-star. They and director Joseph Ruben do all right with the material they are given, but there is no great moral anguish on display. Unfortunately, there is a shift from "morality tale" to "love story" - not unexpected, but it becomes too dominant.

***** Return to Paradise (8/10/98) Joseph Ruben ~ Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, Joaquin Phoenix, David Conrad

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