Ticket to Paradise Movie Controversy
Criticism Ticket to Paradise, an upcoming romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney, drew criticism earlier this week after it was discovered that the film was shot in Australia despite the story being set in Bali, Indonesia. What makes Ticket to Paradise movie controversy for many people?
Ticket to paradise promises to be the return to cinema of American romantic comedies, the star format of the 90s. Nevertheless, Ol Parker’s film does not have the flavor of these comedies of yesteryear and does not come close to Love at first sight with Nothing Hill, Just Married… The return of the couple Julia Roberts and George Clooney, the main marketing attraction, does not manage to save this incongruous American production.
Filmed in Australia
Part of the filming was planned in Australia and the other in Bali, but due to the pandemic and the confinement, Bali had become inaccessible. Ticket to Paradise was finally filmed in the fall of 2021 in Queensland, Australia. A blessing in disguise given that Australia has bigger infrastructure for filming of this size, as well as public film funding support from local government and film production support strategies at the regional level, which is very attractive for foreign productions. Also, there were very few Covid cases in Australia at the time. Later when the lockdown was lifted there, a team was sent to Bali for the missing plans.
The offering escape after the pandemic
“When the pandemic hit us, what I was writing at the time suddenly didn’t make sense. The world suddenly changed,” says director Ol Parker. It then seemed obvious to him to offer the spectators joy, hope and escape. “Romantic comedies attract a very large audience who like to get together to laugh and be tender in a group. After the few years that we have just spent, it seemed obvious that the public would be eager to find this kind of experience”.
Sources of inspiration
It was producer Sarah Harvey who offered Ol Parker, with whom she had already worked, a possible script, inspired by the story of one of her divorced friends. She and her ex-husband had tried to intervene in the relationship of their daughter who planned to marry on a whim with a virtual stranger.
When writing the screenplay, Ol Parker and screenwriter Daniel Pipski used a quote as a guiding idea: “the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference”. They therefore made sure that there was never any indifference between the two protagonists. The director underlines: “They are always looking for each other, provoking each other, exasperating each other and this energy which circulates between them is a form of passion, since everyone knows that the death of passion marks the departure of love.”
The real controversions
Indonesian Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno defended the film at a press conference on Tuesday.
Sandiaga said during the briefing that the “Ticket to Paradise” production team was one of many who approached his department about filming in Bali during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Strict social measures to prevent the spread of the virus were put in place at the time. The film ended up being shot on an island in Queensland, Australia from November 2021 to February 2022 and received a $4.3 million grant called Location Incentive to do so.
“I said that when it comes to easing visa relaxations and easing filming permissions, we would be able to [help]. But when it comes to COVID-19, we have to follow the rules of the COVID-19 task force,” Sandiaga said.
Sandiaga also added that the film could further promote tourism in Bali, which has been hit hard economically during the pandemic due to its tourism-dependent nature, according to Coconut. The island has only recently shown signs of improvement after reopening to tourists this year.
Apart from the filming location, other criticisms against the upcoming film involve the actor playing a local Balinese being of mixed-race descent. Similar to the controversial casting of Henry Golding in the 2019 hit “Crazy Rich Asians,” some have argued that the casting of Makime Bouttier, who is of Indonesian and French descent, imposes Western beauty standards on Asian men.
There’s also controversy over whether the film perpetuates the same kind of “colonial gaze” that Roberts’ previous film “Eat Pray Love” garnered backlash for. Intan Paramadith, professor of media and film studies at Macquarie University in Sydney, noted how media depict travel in response to film.
The story continues
“In the travel romance genre in particular, we typically see middle-class Western female protagonists (because this genre caters primarily to female audiences) who value their independence and freedom to travel due to their class and of their white privilege,” she said. by South China Morning Post. “They face a problem at first, but order is restored in the end, and the places they visit often serve as a catalyst for change.”
She continued, “Films perpetuate the colonial gaze that reduces places and people to mere landscape allowing Western characters to stand out or assert their agency; this gaze depends on the invisibility of the work of local populations and the exploitation of natural resources to support tourism.
Others have come to the film’s defense, with Indonesian filmmaker Rahung Nasution pointing out how the film is fiction and therefore open to creative freedoms in filming and casting.
“Fiction and non-fiction films are two different fields. If a documentary about Bali was shot at Lake Toba in Sumatra, that would be a problem,” he said.
The real synopsis
Lily (Kaitlyn Dever) goes on vacation to Bali with her best friend. There she meets Gede, a local seaweed fisherman. It’s immediate love at first sight. A month later, the young woman announces to her separated parents, David (George Clooney) and Georgia (Julia Roberts), that she has decided to marry her suitor. Despite their animosity towards each other since their divorce, they join her in an attempt to annul the union. Upon their arrival, the ex-spouses are invited to the engagement party. They meet the future groom and his family. David and Georgia steal the blessed wedding rings, without which the wedding cannot take place according to Balinese tradition.
Ticket to paradise: a disappointing romantic comedy
They do not stop proclaiming their friendship in the press. And yet, Julia Roberts and George Clooney only shot four times together in Confessions of a Dangerous Man, Money Monster and of course in the Ocean’s saga. Each of the two stars, however, played memorable roles in romantic comedies which made worldwide box office successes in the 90s. When one played a prostitute in Pretty Woman, we found the star just out of Emergencies in the arms of Michelle Pfeiffer for Un beau jour.
It is therefore with great nostalgia that we expected Ticket to paradise ready to seal the reunion on the screen of actors who had missed us. Nevertheless, we are quickly cooled by this failed comedy with a scenario written without subtlety which accumulates all the clichés. The film is an aggregate of situations ordered to fulfill a caricatural specification: a swim with dolphins, bickering between Julia Roberts and George Clooney ended with a kiss…
Now you decide… With Ticket to Paradise movie controversy, is it a good film or a bad one?
Featured Image via Universal Pictures