Paradise Now (2005) (PG-13)
This review contains SPOILERS!
"Paradise Now" exemplifies movie making at its finest. It is a burning and powerful work that never ceases to dazzle from one scene to the next. Always humble and filled with the most sensational, human, and uncomfortably real performances, "Paradise Now" is a genuine and near-perfect movie.
Set in Palestine on the West Bank, "Paradise Now" observes two friends, Said (Kais Nashif) and Khaled (Ali Suliman). In one of the film's first scenes we see how the two differ. They are working at a car garage and one of their customers is complaining that the bumper they just put on isn't straight. Said is very polite about disagreeing and tries to pacify the man. Khaled, on the other hand, gets mad at the man and knocks the bumper off with a hammer.
Said is the more meditative of the two and "Paradise Now" tricks you into thinking that the movie is solely about him; but not so. Khaled has the more dramatic change...for the movie is about changing your mind about some of the most important issues.
Captivating from its first shot, "Paradise Now" steals your breath as it captures you in its story. It is so deft and clever about telling the story that you wind up wondering how you got to this point in the story and the final frame of the film is nothing short of pure genius.
Director and co-writer Hany Abu-Assad really knows how to pull the best performances from his cast.
Another added character that brings much life to the movie is Suha (Lubna Azabal), whose work never seems fake. She was fearless in "Incendies" and here again she proves herself to be one of the best actresses living.
What starts out feeling like just an observation on life in a culture unlike the Western world, "Paradise Now" transforms into something deeper and something more potent when Said learns that a resistance movement has recruited he and Khaled to be suicide bombers and travel to Tel Aviv to bring justice to the world.
At first, he rejects the idea. He never says this, but we can see it in his eyes and here again I have to be impressed with Kais Nashif. As hesitant as Said is, Khaled is excited. He is happy at the opportunity and considers (like their brethren tell them) that it is a great honor.
But the day comes and not everything goes according to plan—the result of these snags send both Said and Khaled into tailspins, emotionally and mentally.
One of the most important movies made in recent years if only to humanize the suicide bomber, "Paradise Now" strangely enough never condemns nor elevates any of the actions of its characters; but somehow finds a way to question their mindset.
You won't find a movie like this but every so often.
This isn't a flawless movie, but it's just about as close as you can get. It never feels trite, faked, or too emotional. In fact, if anything, the movie could be criticized for being too apathetic.
Hany Abu-Assad manages to create world of people that are touched by Said and Khaled. He forges relationships, love interests, and the most sensational dialogue.
"Paradise Now" is a movie that I cannot say enough good things about. It is a silent, brooding work that lets its emotions fester inside until they boil over. It's the kind of movie that ca break you, the kind of movie that makes you question, the kind of movie that manages to inspire even with its dark story, the kind of movie that makes you check yourself, the kind of movie that everyone should watch.
It is essential.
Posted by Micah Jones