Paradise in Trouble

Perhaps, the most appropriate time to watch “Paradise Now” is now, since Israel and Lebanon are at it again. The film follows two Palestinian friends who are tapped to become terrorists/martyrs. Their plan is to strap bomb to their bodies, cross the border, go to Tel Aviv and blow themselves up. And what happens to them afterwards? Well, they are promised paradise. It’s as simple as that. But when one of them starts to doubt their actions, it’s trouble.

It seems to me that the only thing “Paradise Now” has going for is its current-events factor. If you judge it strictly as a movie, it’s not that good. The start is terribly boring and it drags for a long time until the two protagonists are revealed to become terrorists/martyrs. Then it becomes interesting when the two men are separated, but it never develops into something great. It seems contrived when you have two guys looking for each other and barely missing each other. As usual, it is common for movies like this for characters to debate the usage of war and revenge. And I’m sitting in my chair rooting for peace, as in peace and quiet, that is. I wanted the characters to shut their mouths.

Now, I’m asking myself as to why I’m responding to the film indifferently. Shouldn’t I care about important issues like this? Maybe I don’t. Maybe I do. But it’s a fact that the film failed to be involving for me. As a whole, it’s quite a quiet mess although there are scattered little moments that work. The only thing I can relate to is the friendship of the two men. And that isn’t even as compelling when compared to the friendship of the two “Syriana” terrorists, who are only in supporting roles in that movie. “Paradise Now” isn’t exactly a stink bomb, but it doesn’t blow you away.

Grade: C

Kais Nashef, Ali Suliman, Lubna Azabal, Amer Hlehel, Hiam Abbass, Ashraf Barhom, and Mohammad Bustami
Screenplay by
Hany Abu-Assad
Bero Beyer
Pierre Hodgson
Directed by
Hany Abu-Assad
Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material and brief strong language