Paradise Now

A Film Review By Jason L. King

Starring: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig
Directed By: Ali Sulliman, Kais Nashef
Rated: PG-13 for thematic elements

Final Grade:

With the images of a war torn Iraq and our soldiers fighting for liberty and freedom for the entire world flooding our news stations, our newspapers and the internet news every day, few people really begin to wonder, just what it looks like from the other side. Every day we read another story about a suicide bomber willing to take his life for the cause, and we immediately dismiss them as an impulsive, mentally unstable human being. But films like Paradise Now show us just how ignorant that viewpoint really is.

Paradise Now is a Palestine film that deals with 2 childhood best friends who are just getting by in life. Their jobs are mediocre, their families aren’t poor, but they aren’t rich either. Both of them have a love for their God and their country and have always said they are willing to put everything on the line to help further their country’s cause. But when they are finally recruited to be suicide bombers in near by Tel Aviv, the two best friends must decide if what they said they would do their whole lives, is really something they want to follow through with.

This foreign language film is only seeing the light of day in the United States because of it’s academy award nomination for Best foreign language picture. The theme of suicide bombers is not something that the general public really runs out and embraces, even though this film is not saying America is an evil empire. None the less, the subject hits home as we watch more of our soldiers being killed by suicide bombers every night on the news.

Despite it’s controversial subject matter, the film has many stong points. The acting is very well done. We can literally see the change of heart in the emotions of the two men. Even if you were to watch the film without it’s subtitles and muted, you could easily follow what was going on just through facial expressions, and the emotions that are shown in the film. The two main characters each do a fantastic job of potraying their change of heart in one of the more powerful performances I have seen this year.

The director does a very nice job of recreating the setting of the war torn Palestine country. Visions of crumbling buildings, grafitti and dusty, dirty delapetated buildings flood the landscape. The setting really helps accent the absurdity of how these people are ruining their own beautiful country through years of struggle. The director uses the setting to his advantage, showing us how the brothers are the same way. Their families years of struggle for the cause has left their lives in just as much dismay and crumbling, just like the buildings around them.

What makes this film really hard to bear for Americans is the idea that they are trying to get us to sypathize with a terrorist. As we watch these characters and follow them as the plot unfolds, you begin to care about them. For me this was tough because I knew that their actions (planning to kill innocents) was something that was so morally incorrect. Making a suicide bomber seem human to the audience is a very tough thing to do, and although the director did a great job of doing so, I think it’s something the public may find very hard to accept

Overall Paradise Now did a great job of showing me what it’s like to be on that other side, and gave me more insight to the Muslim ideals. While I may not agree with their actions, better it gave me a better understanding of them. This film is controversial, but I think it drives home a message that some of us don’t want to hear. The other side is human too. Despite their differing ideas, and some outlandish behavior by the radicals, their morals come in to play too.

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