It was a muddy spring day when I discovered Postmark Paradise, a quaint comedy about a Russian mail-order bride brought over to the Upper Peninsula town of Paradise. It was in the video store’s New Release section—strange, considering the movie debuted in 2000, but forgivable. Like many good things borne in the U.P.—pasties, thimbleberry jam, moose—I figured the film probably took awhile to trickle across the Straits. Right? Not exactly.
While viewing Paradise’s 92 minutes of fame, I noticed a few oddities. The movie town had a central downtown; Paradise doesn’t. And in showcasing the town’s lush woods, the movie missed the breathtaking shoreline of Whitefish Bay. Turns out Postmark Paradise was filmed in Freeport, a town southeast of Grand Rapids.
Okay, so the film didn’t cross the Mighty Mac. Don’t begrudge it too much. Made in Michigan, written by MSU grad Dan Slider and featuring two native actors—Randall Goodwin of Jeff Daniels’s Chelsea-based Purple Rose Theater, and Vincent Angelini, formerly of the Detroit Times Theater Company—Postmark Paradise offers a sweet storyline, an adorable leading lady in Russian actress Natalia Nazarova, and a satisfying dose of Yooper talk from the barmaid (Tantoo Cardinal) who befriends her. I can see why the film snagged a Best Feature Film award at the American Film Institute Festival in 2000. I just can’t see why it wasn’t made in the town that is the movie’s namesake. Nevertheless, an escape into even a make-believe Paradise is paradise to me.