Not Quite Paradise

Not Quite Paradise is a 1985 British comedy-drama directed by Lewis Gilbert. It was originally released in Europe under the title Not Quite Jerusalem, adapted by Paul Kember from his 1982 play of the same name.

Not Quite Paradise
Film poster
Directed byLewis Gilbert
Produced byLewis Gilbert
William P. Cartlidge
Written byPaul Kember
StarringJoanna Pacuła
Sam Robards
Kevin McNally
Todd Graff
Selina Cadell
Ewan Stewart
Music byGian Piero Reverberi
Rondo Veneziano
CinematographyTony Imi
Edited byAlan Strachan
Distributed byJ. Arthur Rank Film Distributors (UK)
Anchor Bay Entertainment (US)
Release date
  • March 28, 1985 (1985-03-28) (UK)
  • June 6, 1986 (1986-06-06) (US)
Running time
114 mins.
CountryUnited Kingdom

It was filmed on two kibbutzim, Eilot and Grofit, as well as at the Mikveh Israel Agricultural School.[1]


Six naive British and American volunteers arrive on kibbutz Kfar Ezra for a working holiday, exchanging their labour for the opportunity to experience first-hand its unique collective lifestyle. When Mike (Sam Robards), a young medical student, falls in love with Gila (Joanna Pacuła), the Israeli girl who is organizing the volunteers' work and accommodation, he must choose between a life with her and returning home.


Critical reception

Not Quite Paradise received very poor reviews. Nina Darnton of The New York Times panned the film as "an example of a good idea spoiled by a hackneyed, heavy-handed script, awkward directorial pacing, and posed acting. . . The script, while trying to humorously characterize national stereotypes, succeeds only in being insulting."[2] Joe Baltake of called it "annoyingly schizophrenic thuddingly humorless when it isn't shockingly offensive."[3] In a savage review in the Los Angeles Times, Patrick Goldstein argued that an "awkward" and "uneven" script, "a paucity of intriguing characters", and an overwrought soundtrack of quivering violins "delivers a dreary, cliché-ridden film with all the wallop of a sheaf of crumbling parchment paper."[4]

London's Time Out contrasted the "strong material" in Paul Kember's original play to this melodramatic, "caramelized" screen version: "Gilbert has created a toffee-apple with the apple removed: bite through the sweet crust of romantic Holy Land locations, handsome Israelis, dashing Arab terrorists and corny jokes, and what remains is sheer emptiness."[5] TV Guide was equally dismissive, noting, "the world of an Israeli kibbutz is reduced to a few simple-minded cinematic clichés . . . no different from a boarding school or overnight camp. The only really indigenous thing to be found here is the beautifully photographed Israeli scenery, which borders on travelog material rather than background setting."[6]


  1. Not Quite Paradise on IMDb
  2. Nina Darnton (6 June 1986), "Gilbert's Not Quite Paradise", The New York Times (retrieved 15 November 2012).
  3. Joe Baltake (8 September 1986), "Not Quite Paradise: Not Quite On The Mark", (retrieved 15 November 2012).
  4. Patrick Goldstein (11 July 1986), "Movie Review: Not Quite Paradise Is Not Quite That Funny", Los Angeles Times (retrieved 15 November 2012).
  5. MH (no date), "Not Quite Jerusalem", Time Out (retrieved 15 November 2012).
  6. "Not Quite Jerusalem: Review", TV Guide (retrieved 15 November 2012).
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