Return to Paradise Reviews
Like Sheriff and Tony, we're pulled both ways by the story: We want them to go back and save Lewis, but we're not exactly sure we'd do the same. That's the Prisoner's Dilemma in a nutshell.
The best performance in the film belongs to Anne Heche, who continues to impress with her range. Her work here is passionate, and she effectively conveys the inner conflict of a woman whose divided loyalties tear at her soul.
What if director Joseph Ruben didn't resort to B-movie suspense tricks? What if the fine cast wasn't saddled with a shamelessly contrived script by Wesley Strick and Bruce Robinson?
Despite solid performances from the leads, it comes shrouded in a heavy cloud of ethics-class complications that makes it feel like a "dilemma of the week" TV movie.
Vince Vaughn finally gives a performance putting him in the serious actor category, Joaquin Phoenix is notable and Anne Heche is believable as the impassioned attorney fighting for the life of her client.
The acting is generally good -- Vaughn is very convincing as a man forced to make a difficult decision, while Joaquin Phoenix even more convincingly plays a man condemned to die.
Return to Paradise is precisely the kind of film I tend to like; one which could go many ways, and one which, if done right, could have a true and profound moral. And it didn't dissapoint.
Fine, low-key performances by Ann Heche as the attorney and Vince Vaughn and David Conrad as the two men she must persuade help sustain our interest in the characters. But after the wrong turn, the story feels as forced as it once was exciting.