Film Review Paradise Now
Director: Hany Abu-Assad (2005)
Love Film has increased my allocation from three films at a time to four, which is nice. Seeing as how I keep a legion of films on my list, all at the same level of prominence (Medium), and the order I get my films sent in is completely arbitrary, I’ve often forgot what the hell a film’s about by the time I receive it. This is the case with Paradise Now, I have no idea what it’s about, and the sleeve contains no descripton, so all I can say is I like the name, and it looks suspiciously like a film I watched at The Showroom cinema with my cool mum and dad who didn’t once kidnap a busker and force him to entertain the kids for a week. So, to celebrate Love Film’s generosity, I’ve decided to write this as a live, first thoughts on the page, review.
Credits roll and it looks foreign, I’m guessing Middle Eastern, the names are definitely Islamic, and it all seems a bit familiar.
Five minutes in and …………………………………yup, seen it already. Back to a normal review it is.
So, Paradise Now, a film about that classic meal time topic, Palestinian suicide bombers. Turns out, they’re not all bad, they have, you know, thoughts and feelings and stuff, some of them aren’t even sure they want to be suicide bombers, others just seem to do it because they’re unlucky with the ladies, which is probably the reason for the forty virgins awaiting suicide bombers in heaven. When I think about, who the fuck dies a virgin these days? Probably most of them aren’t particularly attractive, hence their inability to get laid, and the ones who are must have died in some sort of disaster, you know like an earthquake, a tsunami or an explosion or something … … … … … … … … … … … … … … …..oh.
Anyway, Paradise Now, if a little controversial, is pretty decent, are there faults? Yes, a massive one actually which I’ll chip at later, but there’s a lot right with it too. Firstly, massive props to the script, it’s deep, yet never slips into judgement or propaganda. The different arguments for and against this area of the conflict are all represented, it’s left to the audience to make their own judgement. It also looks gorgeous, the deprivation of the Palestinian world stands in stark contrast to the visibly metropolitan world of Israel, and yet neither world seems clichéd or over the top. There are no orphans or maimed people running around for the sake of tugging at the heart strings, everything you need to see is there, the colours are rich and sound is used as an effective mood setter.
The acting is strong, we follow two would-be suicide bombers, deftly portrayed by Kais Nashef and Ali Suliman as they enter the final week of a planned attack. Both actors are believable, switching between devout and doubting sceptics in a logical, engrossing way, one scene in a car where the two question one of their commanders if angels really will pick them up for a red carpet ride to heaven once they explode is particularly memorable. The conclusion as well, is pretty epic, I remember everyone left the cinema in silence the first time I watched Paradise Now, and while predictability takes away some of the shock factor, it’s no less draining on the second viewing.
All in all, a deftly handled film, managing to unnecessarily respect religious sensibilities, avoid the notion of criticism or judgement and a consummate example of fence sitting. Damning with praise over, I’ll begin chipping at that massive fault.
Chip, chip, there are people in this world that believer suicide bombers are little more than moustachioed simpletons acting out of a love for all things evil/a hatred for the type of concepts John Lennon sang about. There are also lots of people who visit Loch Ness in the hope they might actually see a mythological monster, they’re a portion of the world I like to call, ‘fuckwits’, and dismiss out of hand. What I did there was present my opinion, and now I’ll go further. Any fuckwit, dumb enough to think that a single dinosaur survived to this day by hiding in a remote Scottish Lake should be chemically castrated with immediate effect.
Chip, Chip, see where I’m going with this? I get that a suicide bomber is more than just an evil, one dimensional zealot, that there are deep complicated factors underlying their decision to go out with a bang and that they themselves are not necessarily to blame for some of these factors. None of that stops me from pointing to a suicide bomber and saying ‘stop you absolute, 100% fuckwit!’. See understanding something, doesn’t mean I can’t also be massively condemning of it, especially when ‘it’ is the retarded act of destroying yourself in the name of a none existent fuckwit and on the behalf of manipulative fuckwits.
CHIP, CHIP, see where I’m going with this? I don’t need a film that feels it’s enough to just tell there’s complicated situation in Palestine, I already know it’s there, and I don’t need a 90 minute exercise in understanding that suicide bombers are people with emotion ties to the world as well, I already know that too. What I want to know, is the position of the film makers themselves, sure suicide bombers are victims in their own way too, so show me who they’re the fucking the victims of! Paradise Now so successfully avoids casting a judgement it fails the show the manipulative actions of religious leaders in convincing young men to kill themselves, or the pressures placed on them by local zealots, and it completely ignores the role Israeli rockets, tanks, soldiers, roadblocks and settlements have in turning the whole situation up to 11.
Is suicide bombing bad? Of course it is! Is Israel a nation subjugating a people and creating the situation where suicide bombing arises, of course it is, so why couldn’t Paradise Now get off its fence and have the guts to say that? So many characters seem to exist purely so they can say three lines of dialogue representing a different viewpoint on the situation. They barely get any screen time and give the impression of existing in a world where everyone and their mother stands around all day giving their unsolicited opinion and eagerly others point of view. This may sound like a more perfect world, but actually, when you think about it, it’d be a world where nothing ever got solved, nothing got done, and everyone went about their business paying as much creed to the man walking around Sheffield city centre with learning difficulties and a sign that reads Repent for he is coming, as they would Noam Chomsky.
This is a great film, and I’m not ending this review without recommending it, but seeing as how it’s unwilling to, I’d like to finish with an address to the would be suicide bombers out there who have undoubtedly taken a break to read my crap film reviews.
If you do hold the pretty idiotic belief that a conscious being created your unnecessarily complex body, do you really think this ‘being’ did so, just so you could listen to old twats, who, having not done so themselves, feel you, a much younger and healthier person who has a lot more potential time left, should blow yourself and other humans this being created into millions of tiny fragments, because that’s the best way to be thankful for the gift of creation? If the answer to any of this has been yes, then pat yourself on the back before you go, because you are officially, undoubtedly, an absolute fuckwit.
Written By Sam ‘Saying someone’s a radical atheist is like claiming someone’s rambunctiously soft spoken, failing success or joking seriously’ McKinstrie
Unnecessarily on twitter as McKinstHFP
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