3.5, Middle East/Africa

Paradise Now

2005 / Hany Abu-Assad > Paradise Now’s strength is its ability to examine the psyche of a suicide bomber without relying on any violence. Abu-Assad chooses, interestingly, not to deal with the background of the conflict, but to create circumstances in which Said, the protagonist, finds himself questioning or amplifying his motives. Most of those around him act as fodder, but not until later in the film do we see Said personally account his reasons for becoming a suicide bomber.

The film is well paced and has a few great moments (e.g., after Said videotapes his goodbye speech to his family, the cameraman tells him that it didn’t record properly). The ending is well done and left for interpretation. One could make a good argument that if the movie was any longer or more in-depth, it would lose a lot of the simple flair that it exhibits. Most importantly, Abu-Assad doesn’t choose sides and doesn’t stereotype, thereby enhancing the credibility and universality of the film.