Said and Khaled are walking time bombs. With explosives strapped to their bodies, the two young Palestinians slip into Israel, planning a suicide mission in Tel Aviv. Can anything or anyone change their minds? Paradise Now - sweepingly powerful and intricately detailed, highly acclaimed and widely controversial - tells the story of these two lifelong friends and their mission of doom. Hany Abu-Assad directs, shooting this harrowing thriller in locations made equally harrowing by real-life missile attacks, exploding land mines, suspicious Palestinian factions and Israeli occupied forces, and the kidnapping of a crew member. The result is a film that knows its topic up close and provides no easy answers. Instead, Paradise Now lays bare the humanity and the horror for all to see, to ponder...and perhaps to change.
The Mighty Celt
- Paradise Now review by CP Customer
Absolutely wonderful acting from the entire cast - Gillian Anderson could hardly have done more, following Lady Dedlock in Bleak House, to prove she is impossible to typecast. Robert Carlyle was a scallywag, as usual, but a very good one. The story was touching, funny and sad, and, according to my husband who knew Belfast well during the troubles, the background was very realistic.
The blurb says “a plea for peace”, but giving one of the would-be bombers an articulate five minute speech towards the end of the movie on why he wants to go through with the plan is a risky strategy at least given the number of impressionable types out there. The film is chilling in its depiction of the preparation of the bombers- the rituals, the “martyr videos” and the icy calm that descends on the pair as they get close to their mission. The director tries to be even-handed; not only does he make clear the indignities of life on the occupied West Bank, the checkpoints, the arbitrary road closures and the constant presence of heavily armed soldiers, but he also shows the warmth of family life that the bombers are sacrificing for paradise and a piece of bloody history.
I thought it was a thought provoking way of showing the Palestine / Israeli conflict. it is shown through the eyes of extremist Palestinians with whom the film tries to provoke you to empathise. It works, these two suicide bombers are both credible as extremists and are likeable with intriguing personalities. The poverty and oppression of the two central characters is well depicted with some interesting indoor scenes. The fantastic wealth in Tel Aviv is contrasting and serves to heighten the tension of the inevitable climax of the film which is done in a memorable way (like the last scene in Black Adder goes forth is memorable).
Given the emotive subject matter (suicide bombers) I was disappointed that the film didn't capture my interest nor did I feel engaged with the characters. Not sure if this was because of the acting which was flat - or the script which I didn't think fleshed out the characters much beyond 2 dimensions. Yes the film did give an intimate feel to this issue and did not overly politicise (with the exception of the debate in the car) - and there were somegenuinely 'funny' moments (yes really). But overall it failed to stir any passion or emotion in me.