After Blue (Dirty Paradise) is probably not meant for you. In fact, it’s probably not meant for most people. It’s a strange and surreal blending of several different genres that one wouldn’t normally mix together. After Blue (Dirty Paradise) is a French futuristic sci-fi, horror, Western, LGBT film that is directly inspired by films of the 1970s. If you want to like this film, you need to like all of those elements. Even if you do like all of those elements, you have to be ready for its two-hour-plus runtime and very slow pace and surrealistic imagery.
Provided you can get behind all of that, you may enjoy your time here. If you can’t and even if you’re not jiving with one of those elements, then this isn’t going to be all that pleasant of a time. At all.
After Blue (Dirty Paradise)
Director: Bertrand Mandico
Release Date: June 3, 2022 (Limited Theatrical)
Thousands of miles from the destroyed remains of planet Earth lies After Blue, a planet only inhabited by female refugees from Earth. It’s been some time since the women have settled After Blue, but they have developed some semblance of society, with various rules and laws in place, such as how there is no advanced technology, or “screens” as they’re referred to (guns are okay though). A young woman named Roxy (Paula Luna) accidentally frees the dangerous assassin Kate Bush (Agata Buzek) from being buried alive at the beach. Immediately upon being freed, she kills Roxy’s friends but spares her, going off to parts unknown. Outraged by this, the village elders force Roxy and her mother, Zara (Elina Lowensohn), to go out and hunt Kate Bush, forbidden to return to their village unless they complete their task.
After Blue (Dirty Paradise) is a movie that doesn’t shy away from excess. Virtually everyone in the cast is naked, or at least close to it, with plenty amounts of gore and bizarre imagery. I will never fault a movie for making any choices about sexuality and gore, but it needs to serve a purpose. It can’t just be violence for the sake of violence and sex for the sake of sex, yet After Blue (Dirty Paradise) isn’t interested in giving you an explanation to any of its questions. It’s more focused on just giving you an acid trip and hoping that you can follow along with the pretty sights and sounds with plenty of naked women to boot.
The world of After Blue is doused by what I can only describe as bisexual lighting to depict its foreign and alien world, which I’m not even going to touch on if that’s thematically appropriate or not. Not my territory, go ask Sophia about it. I can say, however, that the movie does certainly make whatever it shines its lights on look cheap. A sci-fi movie lives and dies on the world it creates and how believable the world is and I never once for a moment believed I was looking at a strange alien world. I knew that I was looking at a bunch of sets, and not even sets inspired by 70s sci-fi movies like Zardoz but more so 50s sci-fi movies that you would find on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
I do have to appreciate the performances of all of the actresses as they really do commit to these roles. Agata Buzek turns Kate Bush into a fairly interesting character from the moment she appears on screen, and that’s not just because of the eye vagina and feral arm she has. Her performance really is strong as she portrays this heartless assassin that inspires fear from virtually everyone she encounters. Indeed, some of the imagery is really striking, like the faceless woman who just has a huge gaping hole where everything should be.
But so much of After Blue (Dirty Paradise) just drips of avant-garde pompousness. It tries so hard to be different that it forgets it actually needs to tell an engaging story. No joke, almost an hour into the movie, I fell asleep watching it. I rarely, if ever, do that, so I immediately went back to see the last ten minutes that I missed and I missed basically nothing. I watched Roxy and Zora meet these two English-speaking women who messed with them a bit, then they went back to wandering the desert. Believe it or not, it gets even duller and more drawn out as the movie progresses.
To be boring is a pivotal sin in my eyes for a film, and After Blue (Dirty Paradise) is exactly that. For a movie that looks as strange and uncanny as this one, I shouldn’t be checking the time wondering if/when something is going to happen. The actors tried their damndest, they really did, but even getting the best actors in the world isn’t enough to make this something worth watching. Even if you just want to go into this and watch the pretty lights and colors, you’ll be taken out by how cheap everything is.
Still better than Morbius.