Saturday, June 2, 2012

984. Paradise Now (2005)

Running Time: 90 minutes
Directed By: Hany Abu-Assad
Written By: Hany Abu-Assad, Bero Beyer, Pierre Hodgson
Main Cast: Kais Nashef, Ali Suliman, Lubna Azabal, Hiam Abbass, Amer Hlehel
Click here to view the trailer


Today was going to be "Gaslight", but when "Paradise Now" debuted on the streaming portion of Netflix, just yesterday, I decided to go ahead and take that one out instead.

Said (Nashef) and Khaled (Suliman) are best friends, working as mechanics in the city of Nablus. The film focuses on the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the pressures that it places on the ones who are involved and the ones who aren't. Said and Khaled are associated with a resistance group that organizes attacks on Israel. One day, their associate, Jamal (Hlehel) contacts them and informs them that they have been chosen to act as suicide bombers in an attack that will take place in a busy part of Tel Aviv. Said and Khaled consider it a great honor to be chosen and are assured that once their mission is carried out, they'll be praised as heroes and surely find paradise in their next life. Said and Khaled are suited up on the day of the mission and fitted with special bombs, attached to them with a belt that cannot be removed, lest it go off. They are then given crew cuts, dressed in suits and sent to die for the cause. However, when they mission goes awry, Said gets separated from Khaled and the group is convinced that Said double crossed them. Now it's up to Khaled to track down Said and prove to the resistance that he's not a rat. Meanwhile, Said wanders the city if Nablus looking for Khaled and trying to come to terms with what he's prepared to do for his country.

I have to admit that the blueprint here is very original. Never before have I seen a picture about either A) suicide bombers or B) the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I'm not a CNN watcher and in fact, I rarely watch the news, unless I need to know what the weather's going to be like. I don't follow politics and I keep my nose out of domestic and foreign affairs - always have and probably always will. However, even I know that the Israeli's and the Palestinian's have been feuding for the better part of the last century and that making a movie out of the conflict was inevitable. Hell, every conflict that has ever occurred between two countries has been committed to celluloid, so why not the most famous conflict of them all. Then you throw in the central characters: two suicide bombers and you should be well on your way to a dramatic, emotional and powerful film. Well, you'd think that wouldn't you? But you'd be wrong.


Where was all the drama here? Where was the emotion? Hell, where was the music? I firmly believe that even a little bit of music could've done wonders to spruce up this film and make it a little bit more heartfelt. I couldn't sympathize with these two very sympathetic characters, because the film produced no drama whatsoever. I should've been witnessing personal growth, characters trying to identify themselves and the actions that they're taking. Instead, I get a flat story that never really gets off the ground and where nothing ever really takes place. The film should've ended on a very down note and in a way, I guess it did. We're lead to believe that Said carries out his mission, as the film ends with him aboard a bus, presumably headed to the part of Tel Aviv where he was meant to detonate himself. The filmmaker's here should have been drilling into our heads that life in this part of the world is not pretty. The audience should have been forced to tears and forced to maybe take an interest in things they wouldn't normally be interested in. When you're given the power to make a film and make a statement and you piss it away like the filmmaker's of "Paradise Now" did, your license to make films should be revoked. I didn't feel for these characters, I don't have anymore interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict now, than I did before I watched it and I feel like this feud should've been given a more proper story.

RATING: 4/10  It kept me mildly interested, so I can't go way low, but it wasn't great either. I really wish they'd cut in some music and worked on the script a little more, because this could've been a real eye-opener of a picture.


June 2, 2012  9:29pm

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