[PARK CITY, UT.] WHAT: In Alice Waddington’s provocative directorial debut, an outspoken young woman named Uma (Emma Roberts) wakes up one morning in Paradise Hills, a high-class treatment facility on an isolated Mediterranean island led by the Duchess (Milla Jovovich) where well-off families send their daughters to become perfect versions of themselves. Through individually calibrated treatment regimens including etiquette classes, vocal lessons, beauty treatments, gymnastics and restricted diets, all physical and emotional shortcomings are resolved within two months. Transformation is guaranteed. Uma finds solace and friendship in other Paradise Hills residents — Chloe (Danielle McDonald), Yu (Awkwafina) and Mexican popstar Amarna (Eiza González). But Uma soon realizes that lurking behind all this beauty is a sinister secret. It’s a race against the clock as Uma and her friends try to escape Paradise Hills before it consumes them all.
The film starts with the leading character, Uma (Emma Roberts) dancing and being lifted up in the middle of the ballroom. It appears to be her wedding celebration as she is the center of attention in an all white dress that carries a grey fox fur cap-sleeve paired with an intricate crown that doubles as her vale. The scene cuts to a flashback two months prior to her poised wedding performance. Suddenly, Uma wakes up in an unfamiliar room then reality hits as things spiral out of control that drives her to escape the boarding school she didn’t sign up for!
Throughout the film, Uma continues her commitment to leave the island so she can reunite herself with her true love. Typical love story, yet this romantic sci-fi flick has better graphics than any love story I’ve seen. The director, Alice Waddington, has a background in the fashion industry. Which translate well on the big screen, because the costumes were pure white and had details from past centuries and futuristic timelines. Part of me feels, that the true star of the show was the costumes. Plus, the imagery will carry the mind to a distant fantasy that every little girl has dreamt of.
Not only will women relate to this fantasy, they’ll also find common ground in the characters that had to face the reality of their families setting specific expectations for them. For example, the normal beauty standards of being a thin supermodel or the expected stuffy career path parents decide for their blatant creative children.