Written by: Scott Ambrose and Marley Worth
Starring: Scott Ambrose and Marley Worth
Opening with a montage of random images relating to current Britain whether it be to religion, commercialism, or politics all to the rhapsodic anthem of Dies Irae its painfully
obvious that Welcome to Paradise is going to be pretentious. Followed immediately by Scott Ambrose’s character of Johnny Powell reciting slam poetry lamenting the country’s state, the film transforms into its main narrative of a mockumentary following Ambrose’s miserable alt-right character.
Ambrose and Worth, Worth playing “himself” as the documentarian are attempting some half-assed social commentary about the paralysed nature of Britain due to Brexit and continued divide between political ideologies. Their film focuses on the fictional character of Johnny Powell, a bigoted, ignorant man full of uninformed contradictive opinions on society. Welcome to Paradise’s best asset is Ambrose’s performance as it perfectly captures the pathetic nature of this obtuse culture fuelled by nationalism. Worth’s character conducts interviews with Johnny and follows him around his daily routine in an attempt to understand and challenge his views but the actual film never presents a true conflict or narrative for its characters. Johnny continuously spouts his uninformed opinions on a variety of topics revealing hateful judgments to just about every demographic. Claiming to be a proud Englishman, Johnny spends the film complaining about the current state of the country, blaming his personal disparity on anything besides himself, unable to see that his personality is toxic.
Realism aside nothing is happening besides continuous repetition of the same story beat, Johnny reveals a new horrible viewpoint of his, accompanied by footage of him walking around Walthamstow in Greater London. While it sells the Iannucian satire to the character there is no challenge to the narrow-minded judgements he repeatedly spouts. There is an attempt to show a progression of time to see if the vision of Brexit has improved Johnny’s life but the film continues to cut back to earlier talking head interviews confusing the timeline of the film. There are a few moments where Worth tries to confront Johnny about what he’s saying and how its offensive but Johnny always brushes him off and starts off a new tangent. Worth can frequently catch Johnny in his lies and contradictions, playing him as the fool and embarrassing him but it doesn’t lead to anything.
The film ends on a sudden uncompleted note, the entire mockumentary has been building towards an unsatisfying ending to represent the hollow nature to Johnny’s worldview. Worth even goes on camera to admit this deliberate decision to not have the film have any meaningful commentary. It may be a meta decision to have the film be as spineless as actual journalists towards the alt-right but without any meaningful commentary to these viewpoints it makes Welcome to Paradise a waste of time. Its satire with no struggle, Johnny’s character is essentially given carte blanche to say whatever he likes in the film and suffer no real consequence, it doesn’t teach the audience about anything as Johnny is reprehensible and unsympathetic and doesn’t want to offer any solutions to it. Welcome to Paradise just like its main character spends its entire runtime complaining about everything around them and offering no tangible solutions for anything. Highlighting these irrational and ignorant mindsets to condemn them is important but for a 90-minute film that goes nowhere the shtick of parody wears off fast.