Paradise Now - Almost Paradise
| Paradise Now has an interesting, and therefore, in our current political climate, controversial premise. It attempts to tell the story of a suicide bomber from the bomber's perspective.
Immediately this is interesting. Rarely does western discourse allow any discussion besides vilification of suicide bombers. How can we see humanity in someone who would do something so terrible?
As seen earlier this year with the release of Downfall, a film outlining the last few days of Hitler's life, it's difficult for us to even contemplate the humanity of Nazis from 60 years ago. How can we deal with a horror that faces us right now?
Paradise Now is mostly successful as a movie. We follow two young Palestinian men who have made the decision to turn to violence in the name of their cause. They interact with all those around them from the zealots urging them on to the more sensitive voices of reason encouraging more peaceful solutions.
However the filmmakers are too busy with the issues here to craft a truly engaging story or character study. Characters spew rhetoric more than dialogue that invests the audience in who they are. Also, the plot is too thin, sacrificed most probably to get the ideas out there, so the audience is never quite riveted enough.
Still, the performances are striking. Given what they have to work with the actors bring a great deal of pathos to their parts. We never side with them, but we can see beyond the bomb and see them as human beings and that is the power of this piece.
The film doesn't shake our foundations. Violence (especially in the case of suicide bombings) is still wrong. Still we are comfortable seeing these men as victims of their surroundings. At least that's a step up from vilification. Paradise Now may have been even more powerful if it could have broken through that wall of "otherness" but instead it just lessens it. It's a brave film that just doesn't quite go far enough.