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PARADISE NOW

Director: HANY ABU-ASSAD

FRANCE - GERMANY - NETHERLANDS - ISRAEL • 2005 • SUBTITLED • COLOUR ANAMORPHIC • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 90 MIN.


A REVELATORY AND DRAMATICALLY INCISIVE LOOK INSIDE THE PSYCHOLOGY OF A PALESTINIAN SUICIDE BOMBER AND THE SOCIO-POLITICAL CONTEXT WHICH INSPIRES HORRIFIC ACTION, HANY ABU-ASSAD’S FILM HOPES TO AID UNDERSTANDING AND PROMPT DISCUSSION WITHOUT ENDORSING THE PATH OF THE FANATICISM IT SO CHILLINGLY DEPICTS.
In the West Bank town of Nablus, two youthful buddies (Kais Nashef and Ali Suliman) seem like pretty regular guys. They don’t take their jobs as car mechanics that seriously, they like a smoke and chat about girls. They hardly seem like zealots of any particular religious or political stripe, but when the word comes from the paramilitaries that tomorrow is their big day, there’s barely a note of dissent. The supposed honour of their martyrdom is simply taken as read, fuelled by the frustration and humiliation of the ongoing Israeli occupation.
Daringly, Abu-Assad leavens the film with a spiky black humour as not a little bungling impedes the men’s fateful progress. Although there’s room for the voice of non-violent opposition from the film’s love interest, a cosmopolitan young woman just back from France, the carefully inlaid background detail eventually accedes to stomach-tightening tension as the human time-bombs don their very best wedding suits to slip across the border with the intent to blow ordinary Israelis to pieces. Seeing the children and old folk going about their daily business, do they really have the unflinching inhuman determination to go through with it? This courageous and intelligent piece of cinema encourages us to wonder why the question’s being asked in the first place.—Trevor Johnston.

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