Saturday, November 19, 2005

Paradise Now

A terrific new film Paradise Now tackles the issue of Palestinian suicide bombing in a very thoughtful way.

New York Times has this to say:

Said (Kais Nashef) and Khaled (Ali Suliman), best friends from childhood, belong to a terrorist cell in Nablus on the West Bank that is about to undertake its first suicide mission in two years. The film, directed by Hany Abu-Assad, an Israeli-born Palestinian, from a screenplay he wrote with Bero Beyer, the film's Dutch producer, follows them over the two days leading up to the climactic deed. Beginning shortly before they are tapped by an unidentified Palestinian organization to carry out the mission, the movie culminates less than 48 hours later in a denouement whose outcome remains uncertain until the last second.

The movie carries off two tricky balancing acts. One is to give the story a political context without bogging it down in essayistic debate and laborious historical background. The other is to maintain a balanced political perspective given the one-sided views of these all-too-human terrorists.

It does this by shoehorning in a strong, alternative Palestinian point of view in the person of Suha (Lubna Azabal), an attractive young woman Said meets in the auto-repair depot where he and Khaled work.

In an emotional confrontation with both men, she articulates the arguments against suicide bombing. What happens to those left behind, she asks? Her question alludes not only to the grief of surviving loved ones but also to the political fallout from suicide bombing: the tragic pattern of revenge begetting revenge that will further oppress Palestinians. Her humane voice becomes the movie's moral and emotional grounding wire.

A must watch film.

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