After several delays, Lana Del Rey’s highly anticipated short film Tropico has been released, and it does not disappoint. Featuring Lana Del Rey and Shaun Ross, Tropico begins with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and chronicles their descent into crime and poverty in Los Angeles after eating the forbidden fruit.
Tropico, essentially three connected music videos, isn’t necessarily a major creative shift for the songstress. She is known for her lengthy music videos like “National Anthem” and “Ride” that feel more like short films. Tropico is a visually stunning 27-minute piece full of religious imagery contrasted with scenes of crime and female sexuality. While it is fairly common to see women in music using their sexuality as a source of expression and empowerment,Tropico portrays women using their sexual power as a source of income and means of survival among Los Angeles’s male-dominated upper-class society. “From being created in his likeness,” Lana Del Rey’s character narrates over scenes of poverty and chaos, “from being banished for wanting to be too much like him, we were cast out of the Garden of Eden transformed into the Garden of Evil.”
Tropico isn’t all highs though. Lana Del Rey’s normally quote worthy monologues fall flat throughout the film. While the Elvis and Marilyn Monroe characters are used as references to the lyrics in “Gods and Monsters,” they seem out of place and forced – especially during their unnecessary speaking parts. The final scene, which shows the main characters blissfully embracing before ascending back to the heavens, ends up feeling stretched out and unbearably long. “Body Electric” and “Gods and Monsters” feel like natural selections for Tropico, but “American” (also from Lana Del Rey’s Paradise EP) would have been a much better fit for the final scene than “Bel Air”.
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