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Palestinians Said and Khaled, now in young adulthood, have been lifelong friends living in Nablus in the West Bank. They have both had what they consider a difficult life, now working side-by-side in unfulfilling jobs as auto mechanics in a small garage, being unfulfilling as difficult as the jobs were to get. Those difficult lives includes feeling like they are prisoners in the West Bank, Said who has only left the region once on a medical issue when he was six. They blame all their problems on the oppression by the Israelis. As such, they have volunteered and have been accepted by a Palestinian resistance group to carry out a suicide bombing mission in Tel Aviv: after the initial response to the first bomb, the second bomb would be detonated at the same site. Following the bombing, the resistance group would release pre-taped video messages of Said and Khaled confessing to the bombing in the name of God. The mission would require Said and Khaled to cross "illegally" into Israel. ...Written by
When the film was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, much controversy surrounded the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' decision to designate it as a submission from the Palestinian Authority, rather than Palestine. Due to much protestation from writer-director Hany Abu-Assad, the film was eventually announced by Will Smith as being a submission from the Palestinian territories. See more »
When Khalid speeds away in the green car the camera man is reflected in the car's windows. See more »
We still have paradise.
There is no paradise. It only exists in your head.
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Paradise Now was the Palestinian film which won the Golden Globes this year for best foreign language film, and it's no wonder to see why it did. Touching on very real, contemporary and the sensitive issue about the relations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, it takes on the much talked about and feared weapon of terrorists / freedom fighters, that of the suicide bomber.
And for that, I applaud the movie's take and narrative, which treads the very fine line and provides the audience aspects from both ends of the spectrum. The introduction is nicely set up, that the Israelis view the Palestinians with suspicious eyes, while it is the case of contempt the other way around. It doesn't set out to glamorize dastardly deeds, but presents a more intimate look into the making of a martyr, the motivations behind those who have willed themselves to political suicide, as well as presenting arguments for a more peaceful resolution through negotiations.
Said (Kais Nashef) and Khaled (Ali Suliman) are childhood friends living in the city of Nablus. They're essentially the working class, and on the surface, your average Joe with non extremist views, living in a city where explosions are common everyday events. But before you know it, it's revealed that they are freedom fighters living a life of normalcy, and beneath the happy-go-lucky facade, they're ever ready to die for their cause. This movie humanizes the anonymous faces we often see in the news, thereby drawing flak from certain circles.
A chance presents itself, and the two of them are assigned to an unnamed group's latest and largest operation in 2 years, a bombing in Tel Aviv. Here's where things are interesting, as rituals are presented as the duo prepare themselves for their appointment with Paradise.
And this movie doesn't hold back in making fun of precisely this sacred promise of going to Heaven after the violent act of murder is committed. Watching it being presented through dialog by their chief operative, makes you wonder how gullible and easily manipulated would-be martyrs can be. But just as you're ready to generalize the simplistic behavior of suicide bombers, the movie's third act will arrest you with a twist that deeply explores the agendas, personal vendettas and the likes, which transcend all reasons and logic, providing more than enough fuel for motivation.
Worry not though that the movie will be heavy in theme. There are adequate light hearted moments to break the seriousness, and interesting visual details like the handless bomb- maker, puts things into certain perspective. Or that tongue-in-cheek reference to The Last Supper as well.
The ending was superb. My guess is many weaned on Hollywood will not come to appreciate it as it yanks the carpet from under your feet. Those who are accustomed to big, loud explosions might find it puzzling. But I thought it was a brilliant way to end it, a silent purposeful statement that continues throughout the end credits, stripping away any glamor of violence, whatever the cause, reason or rationale used to justify it.
Paradise Now is a film rooted in realism despite its fictional storyline. It is without the usual glitz associated with recent films touching on the subject (Syrianna comes to mind) and makes perfect use of its smaller scale to tell a more intimate, but no less powerful, story.
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