Paradise Now

Reviewed By Peter Sobczynski
Posted 11/03/05 23:51:26

"A look at how the other half lives . . .and dies"
4 stars (Worth A Look)

What kind of person would willingly accept an order to strap a bomb to himself and walk into a public area in order to blow up both himself and as many other people as he can? We typically think of such people simply as monsters but the fascinating new film “Paradise Now” dares to look at them as ordinary human beings.

The film deals with Said and Khaled (Kais Nashef and Ali Suliman), two longtime friends from Palestine who are recruited for the “honor” of being wired with bombs and sent to Tel Aviv to blow themselves up. (Funny how the people in charge are always talking about what an honor and privilege it is to be chosen for such a task, yet none of them ever seem to volunteer for the privilege.) The plan gets botched and the two are essentially given another chance to grapple with the moral and ethical implications of their actions before deciding what their next course of action will be.

Though it has some similarities with the current “The War Within,” “Paradise Now” is the better film because it doesn’t resort to melodramatics in order to maintain the tension and suspense. Instead, director/co-writer Hany Abu-Assad is more concerned with the human aspect of the story. Instead, he takes the time to show us how two seemingly ordinary people could get so twisted by a lifetime and violence and persecution that the idea of detonating themselves might sound like a noble and profound gesture–at the same time, the message rings loud and clear that violence is not the answer and that if there is to be any peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, both sides have to stop the violence and retribution.

As a result, “Paradise Now” is a valuable and worthy film that should serve as an eye-opener for anyone who encounters it, regardless of their position on the Palestine-Israel conflict.

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