Jack McGurn (Quaid) comes to LA in the mid-1930s, and gets a job as a cinema projectionist in Little Tokyo. He falls in love with the Japanese-American owner's daughter, and they elope - but the entry of the US into World War II threatens their happiness.
Never one to shy away from the nearest controversy, Alan Parker here follows his rough ride over Mississippi Burning by turning to yet another potentially explosive area of American history, the internment of Japanese Americans in the US during World War II. It is all the more surprising then to find the undeniably potent historical events portrayed here playing second fiddle to a central love story dangerously close to Mills and Boon.
Dennis Quaid - remarkably good as the romantic lead - plays Jack McGurn, a militant union organiser who arrives in Los Angeles after a demonstration back home in New York goes tragically wrong. He becomes a projectionist in Little Tokyo and falls in love with Japanese beauty Lili (Tomita), daughter of the traditional father who runs the cinema and who is none too enamoured with the prospect of Jack as son-in-law. The forbidden couple elope, only to return to L.A. just in time for Pearl Harbour. Lili and family are taken off to an internment camp, Jack to the army.
As always, Parker here presents an impressive-looking film, with no shortage of stunning-set pieces - the tightly-knit Japanese community being forced to leave their homes for the squalor of camps (often no more than stables), Jack and Lili saying goodbye at the station - that certainly tug at the heart to considerable effect.
What Come See The Paradise lacks is the usual muscle and historical context of Parker's work, leaving the onus on the superb performances - especially from the Japanese supporting cast - to save this intriguing, slightly off-centre film from becoming just another impressive if melodramatic chapter in The Winds Of War