From Israel comes this thriller focusing on two Palestinian childhood friends as they prepare to commit a suicide bombing. Thankfully this film doesn’t simply take advantage of such tragic events (can you imagine Hollywood having a go at it?), but is a thoughtfully constructed film that attempts to examine why people would be driven to such extremes.
Paradise Now makes for a pretty tense 90 minutes. The central two characters are shown as loving, caring individuals, not crazed religious zealots, and this makes proceedings all the more captivating. There’s nothing flashy about this film, and indeed there is no need for any fancy techniques, as the story on its own is powerful enough.
The performances are strong, and Khaled and Said are wonderfully drawn characters, showing weakness, conviction, hatred and compassion equally as we count down their final hours. The men in charge who pull the strings are the only characters that have very little depth, and it would be hard indeed to have sympathy for such cowards.
The film’s denouement is the only let down. For a film that argued and rationalised its way through most of the hour and a half, the ending is strangely inexplicable.
I’m sure there will be many dunderheads out there that suggest that Paradise Now sympathises with suicide bombers, and in fact many of the posters on IMDb’s message board seem to hold to the belief that ‘some stories shouldn’t be told’. In my humble opinion this is rubbish, and the only way to approach a solution to such complex issues is to try to understand why people do the things they do. Paradise Now is a powerful story that resonates on a deeply human level, and a gripping film to boot.Rating: