(Kais Nashef, Ali Suliman, et al / DVD / PG-13 / (2005) 2006 / Warner Bros.)
Overview: 'Paradise Now' follows two Palestinian childhood friends who have been recruited for a strike on Tel Aviv and focuses on their last days together. When they are intercepted at the Israeli border and separated from their handlers, a young woman who discovers their plan causes them to reconsider their actions.
DVD Verdict: This is one of the most gripping movies I've seen recently. It has a feel of authenticity. "Paradise" addresses one of the most interesting of questions: what motivates people, be they Palestinian, Tamil or other, to sacrifice their lives for a cause.
Two young Palestinian men are called to honor their pledge to become suicide bombers. The movie depicts the squalidness of life in Israeli-occupied Palestine, the careful ritual of their preparation to die, the conflicting moments of doubt and certainty of the two men, and their journey to the location at which they will perform their act of protest. Perhaps the most effective scene in the movie shows them amidst the urban delights of Tel Aviv, so vastly different from the life they lead in a shabby ghetto only a few miles away. The only possible false note for me in the movie was the suggestion of Israeli collaborators with the suicide bombers. Is that plausible? I don't know. The counterpoint to the suicide bombers is Suha, a young, sophisticated, and very appealing woman who argues eloquently against the rationale of suicide bombing. This is powerful stuff, unsullied by cheap propaganda, easy answers, or cinematic tricks. That the movie portrays the Palestinians in a sympathetic light could, I suppose, in the eyes of some be propagandistic. However, my cynical eye accepted the characterizations as credible. "Paradise Now" is of Oscar quality for its originality, depth, and relevance. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of just Arabic Subtitles.