Paradise Now (2005)

Paradise Now (2005)

2005 PG-13 90 Minutes

Thriller | Crime | Drama

Two childhood friends are recruited for a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv.

Overall Rating

8 / 10
Verdict: Good

User Review

  • WHAT I LIKED: Hany Abu-Assad's 'Paradise Now,' lends a masterfully humanist perspective and insight into the Palestinian struggle, and for that reason it couldn't be a more important film for everyone to watch right now.

    It follows two young Palestinians who have bought into the idea that terrorism is the only real way to relieve their opression by Israeli forces, and who have thus been tasked with a suicide mission to Tel Aviv. They're developed first of all as people with loved ones, connections and values of their own, and only then do we witness them increasingly struggle with the morality of their plan both internally, and in debates with those close to them.

    So many thought-provoking questions are raised by all that; how can an opressed, imprisoned people who are consistently murdered by their powerful neighbours fight for their rights? It's pointed out that diplomatic means have consistently failed as there is no support from global powers. But at the same time, eye-for-an-eye violence is clearly unjust and only adds cause to Israel's barbaric regime.

    The pair flip-flop between the many sides of those coins by changing their minds constantly, but it's only the fact that the characters are portrayed as such multi-faceted human beings which makes it all so thought-provoking and eye-opening. We see them living out their daily lives and indulging in their friendship, then the camera constantly zooms in on their nervous and conflicted faces as they prepare for their murders. The performances (Ali Suliman and Kais Nashif) bring out the internal battles they're having absolutely brilliantly, whilst their friends and family not only receive similar treatment but are given many chances to passionately argue with them once they realise what's happening. Equally, you get a sense of the many lifes being lived within the Palestinian streets beyond those folks that we actually get to know, as the vibrancy, as well as the tragedy and opression of the place is captured absolutely masterfully by Abu-Assad's camera.

    If we didn't get all that, we wouldn't have been able to empathise so much towards the debates at hand and the decisions being toyed with, and we wouldn't have been so invested in the outcome. As it is, you'll be waiting with baited breath (this is a rare case of a film where you genuinely have no idea what's going to happen next) and the fact the camera does so much of the work in building that suspense also makes it a highly engaging film cinematically. With all those boxes ticked, 'Paradise Now,' succeeds both as a film that keeps you guessing and on the edge of your seat, as an emotionally-engaging character study, and consequently - and most importantly - as a thought-provoking and empathetic portrait of the Palestinian struggle.

    WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Perhaps it may have been even more beneficial to the empathy if we'd have witnessed more persecution by Israeli forces first-hand. Equally, the religious justification that hangs over the arguments of the suicide bombers somewhat bounds and undermines the depth of the debates with a degree of perceived absolutisn.

    VERDICT: A masterfully humanist portrayal of the many sides to the Palestinian struggle, Hany Abu-Assad's 'Paradise Now,' is a film that's as thought-provoking as it is engaging. Now is as important a time as any to see it.