Time Out says
Twentysomething friends and co-workers in Nablus, Said (Kais Nashef) and Khaled (Ali Suliman) are also members of an unnamed terrorist organisation that has just appointed them to a suicide operation in Tel Aviv – a seemingly straightforward mission that will make several unexpected reversals by the end of ‘Paradise Now’, which was shot on location in the West Bank under semi-siege conditions (a Palestinian faction briefly kidnapped one of the crew members).
Nazareth-born director Hany Abu-Assad previously depicted the tedium, anger and sour hilarity of life under occupation in the fictional ‘Rana’s Wedding’ and the documentary ‘Ford Transit’, a road(block) movie about a West Bank taxi driver and his rotating cast of voluble passengers, who muse on suicide-bomber psychology and the culture of victimhood. Such issues are front and centre in ‘Paradise Now’, which folds in elements of treatise, melodrama, blackest comedy, and a hint of romance – the latter facilitated by the lovely Suha (Lubna Azabal), who’s also the movie’s pacifist voice of reason.
The psychoanalysis of the schematic script is too pat, casting Said, son of a collaborator, in a semi-Oedipal drama wherein he slays the ghost of his treasonous father. Neither he not Khaled appear convincingly resolved to die for a cause or assured of any heavenly reward for their sacrifice. Still, ‘Paradise Now’ is commendable for seeking out nuance in a horrifying subject, putting terrorist acts in sorrowful context while never making excuses for them.
Cast and crew