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Starring: Kais Nashef, Ali Suliman
Director: Hany Abu-Assad
Rating: M18 (Mature Theme)
Year Made: 2005








Languages: Arabic
Subtitles: English
Aspect Ratio: 16x9 Letterbox
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1
Running Time: 1 hr 30 mins
Region Code: 3
Distributor: Comstar Entertainment




"Paradise Now" is the story of two young men as they embark upon what may be the last 48 hours of their lives. On a typical day, amidst crushing poverty and occasional rocket blast, we meet two childhood best friends, Said and Khaled whose paths are instantly altered when they are recruited to carry out a strike in Tel Aviv. They have been chosen for this mission as a team because each had expressed a wish that if either has to die a martyr, the other would want to die alongside his best friend. 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. This gripping and engaging film outlines the complexities of the situation and explores the intensity of their relationship, exposing their internal struggles during those final days.


As any academic scholar would tell you, the mass media is a power platform to discuss and explore political issues and ideas. Just look at 2006’s Oscars, we’ve got quite a handful of really serious and somber nominated shows: Steven Spielberg’s Munich, George Clooney’s Syriana and Fernando Meirelles’ The Constant Gardener.

While these films are somewhat angry-toned and solemn in their delivery, we are glad their foreign counterpart Paradise Now is an elegantly-made film about the equally-grave issues our world is facing today.

This Palestinian film tells the story of two childhood friends who are called by an extremist group to carry out a suicide bombing in Tel-Aviv. The 90-minute film chronicles the rituals and what happens to the two of them right up to the moment they are separated at the border. Panic, confusion, confliction and self-doubt begin enveloping the two best friends, resulting in a quiet but powerful finale. And we must say this is one of the most effective and affecting conclusion to a film we have seen in a while.

We are glad our friends at the censorship board have allowed this piece of work to be shown locally, and now, available for home viewing. Of course, we understand that in our multi-racial country, there may be worries of cultural insensitivities with the portrayal of these two protagonists. But we assure you, the film is approached with so well that any discerning viewer would understand where 45-year-old director Hany Abu-Assad is coming from.

There is no outright exploitation in this award-winning film, only an empathetic showcase of human emotions and a strong plot about two friends going on a mission. Ideas of the nation, patriotism and what it means to be an individual are represented by the two characters. In fact, during the Oscar season in March, there were some controversies about whether Palestine should be regarded as a nation due to its political background. We, of course, shall not go into that debate here.

In terms of casting, it helps that Kais Nashef and Ali Suliman, the two young men playing the two lead characters give heartfelt performances that will have viewers identifying with their every action.

Another striking aspect of this work is its simplicity. There is no fanciful camera work and editing in this film. There doesn’t even seem to be any trace of music score. With everything laid bare, it makes the audiences realize and value the potent and poignant message behind this film.

At the end of the day, it made us realize that politics need not be always about pompously important people and events. The simplest and most personal stories may sometimes carry the most powerful message.


The visual transfer maintains the film look of the movie, and viewers have a choice between Arabic Dolby Digital 2.0 or 5.1.


No extra features are included in this Code 3 DVD, though it’d be nice to see some making-ofs and interviews about how this film is conceptualized and realized on the big screen.



Review by John Li



Alternative Opinion:

The movie review by our columnist

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. Russian Dolls

. Beyond The Sea

. Kursk

. Voice

. The Last Communist

. Jasmine Women

. Running Wild

. You are my Sunshine

. My Girl & I

. Half Light

. Mur (The Wall)

. Mrs Henderson Presents

. Hidden

. The Descent

. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

. A Season for Love

. Horror Theater Series 2

. Horror Theater Series I

. Capturing the Friedmans

. The Wig

. A Wicked Tale

. As It Is In Heaven

. When I Turned 9



This review is made possible with the kind support from Comstar


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