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Loosely based on the 1990 French film Force Majeure, this poignant and superbly crafted drama is a Propaganda Films production in association with Tetragram

Loosely based on the 1990 French film Force Majeure, this poignant and superbly crafted drama is a Propaganda Films production in association with Tetragram. Distributed by PolyGram Films, Return to Paradise is produced by Alain Bernheim and Steve Golin and executive produced by David Arnold and Ezra Swerdlow. Bruce Robinson's original script was enhanced by screenwriter Wesley Strick. Reynaldo Villalobos is the director of photography. Bill Groom is the production designer. Juliet Polcsa is the costume designer. Mark Mancina composed the original score. Andrew Mondshein and Craig McKay, A.C.E. edited the film.

"This story could easily have been about you or me. It could happen to anyone," says Ruben. "This film is about the choices we make, about two friends facing a life and death decision... choices that call for major sacrifices. But it really boils down to one essential question: would you put your life at risk for someone you knew for five weeks?"

While Lewis' life literally hangs in the balance, it is Sheriff who becomes the focal point of the film. Casting Vaughn in the role of such a layered, complex individual was a no-brainer, insist Ruben and Golin. "When I saw Swingers, I knew he had the chops to play Sheriff," Golin recalls. "He brings humanity and a sense of humor to the role that ultimately defines Sheriff."

Exploring the depths of the trepidation and fear this moral dilemma brings is exactly what attracted Ruben and Strick to this dramatically updated and altered retelling in the first place. After all, such territory is quite familiar to both: Ruben directed Sleeping With the Enemy and The Good Son, Strick wrote Cape Fear. The two previously worked together on True Believer.

It was Ruben who brought on Strick after reading Robinson's original script. Robinson wrote The Killing Fields, based on a true story. "With this, I wanted to do something that was loosely based on reality," says Ruben. "It is a fictionalized account based on `What If.' The reality is, `What If' is not that far from the truth. Who doesn't remember the American flogged in Singapore for graffiti? I recall one case of an Australian hanged in Malaysia for drug dealing -- his mother tried to save him by talking to the press and it backfired. It infuriated the government and they killed him. It shows how easily westerners can run afoul of the law."

Putting a spotlight on the media element is where Strick came in, who meticulously researched the back story elements. Ruben attributes the M.J. Major character to Strick who used her primarily as a device to heighten the tension for Heche's Beth -- M.J. being another debilitating obstacle thrown in her path. While Beth pressures Lewis' friends for a quick response to her unappealing offer, Major pressures Beth for Lewis' story, forcing Beth into a hopeless juggling act with her client's life.

But M.J. is not Beth's only distraction. There is more to Beth's argument with Sheriff than just helping her client's cause. His judgment becomes clouded by his feelings for her.

"Anytime two people come together and are under a lot of duress, they will find each other's raw side," contemplates Heche. "I think there is something very appealing about that." She hopes the on-screen heat between Beth and Vaughn's Sheriff "will ignite a fire in everybody watching."

For Conrad, the challenge of pla

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