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Chateau Paradis (2024)

Updated: Jul 7

-Written by Kyle Bain.

When Leo (Jason Denton) hears a knock at his door, one that comes late into the night, he’s pulled back in time. He’s taken to a time and place that he thought no longer existed. His ex Sarah (Bianca Scola) is back in his presence, with a bottle of Chateau Paradis. He’s conflicted. Will he pursue Sarah once more, or is that part of his life officially in the past?

Writer-Director Florian Gunzenhauser takes an artistic approach toward making Chateau Paradis, a film that explores the human psyche and the effect that trauma can have on us. Working with Gunzenhauser is Director of Photography Adrian P. Reyes, and he, too, finds unique and artistic ways to bring this film to life. Constantly shifting, the camera captures both Leo and Sarah in a multitude of ways, helping to illuminate them throughout. On more than one occasion we are presented with over-the-shoulder shots, like the ones you would typically see in an interview–and I believe that this is telling of the conversation between Leo and Sarah. While they aren’t interviewing one another per se, the reality is that they are attempting to get to know one another once more–and the familiarity of these shots help to elevate these moments and invite viewers into Chateau Paradis

Additionally, simple lighting plays a tremendous role in developing each of the characters and Chateau Paradis as a whole. Often existing on the perimeters of the set, lighting works to, again, illuminate the characters in the film. This seems like a given, like the most obvious use of light–but that light often causes the characters faces to exist in some level of darkness. The darkness sets a tone, similarly dark–one that transcends the entirety of the film. However, Gunzenhauser makes the decision to juxtapose the play on light and dark right around the halfway point of the film. While it’s not quite the turning point of Chateau Paradis, there is a moment that signifies a shift in tone–one where a lamp sheds a literal light on the space between Sarah and Leo. We are now given more insight into the narrative as a whole, but more importantly we get to see deeper into the characters. Gunzenhauser meticulously develops these characters throughout the course of Chateau Paradis–and the use of light and camerawork help flesh them out with brilliance. 

What I found to be the most interesting decision made throughout the course of Chateau Paradis is its opening. Before anything appears before us, as black floods the screen we hear a woman (that we later come to know is Sarah) speaking. Leo responds (but, like the woman’s voice, we aren’t privy to who it belongs to just yet). The quote is deep, something I won’t spoil as it seems to play a significant role in the development of the film–and it prepares viewers for what’s to come. It’s our first glimpse into the gravity of the situation in which Leo will soon find himself. Gunzenhauser adequately prepares his viewers for what’s to come–and he refuses to take his foot off the gas moving forward. 

When Gunzenhauser reached out to me he expressed that Chateau Paradis was a “passion project” of his. It’s clear, even in just the opening seconds, the passion that exists in every fiber of this film. Gunzenhauser takes an auteur-esque approach when it comes to Chateau Paradis, and that allows every second of the film to shine brightly, to exude passion. With great precision and technical sophistication, Chateau Paradis is a whirlwind of emotion, a film that is well executed and easy to enjoy. 

Written & Directed by Florian Gunzenhauser. 

Starring Jason Denton & Bianca Scola. 



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