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Really not that many movies concerning the Israeli–Palestinian conflict have been made throughout the years, simply because it's something that remains a very controversial and delicate subject. It's hard to come up with a movie that sheds some light on the whole situation, without really picking sides or offend a large group of people. I however feel that "Paradise Now" managed this and besides did a surprisingly great job at it as well.

As strange as it might sound, this is not really a political movie, since it isn't really picking sides. Even though it's a movie from the Palestinian territories, you can't really accuse the movie for being Palestinian propaganda as well. That's simply not what the movie is all about! It's actually more of a neutral observation of the whole Israeli–Palestinian conflict, that just happens to focus on Palestinian characters. It's not saying that anything they, or the Israelis, do is right or wrong. It simply shows the effects of the whole conflict on the lives of two very ordinary young men, who's lives are heavily influenced and ultimately, unavoidably affected, by the conflict. It's like the course of their lives had already been set out, before they were even born, just because of the time and place they were born at.

The movie is asking itself all sorts of questions. Of course it's not providing any solutions to the whole conflict but again, this really wasn't the movie its intention. But something that the movie does bring up is if violence brings you any closer to a possible solution and if it will achieve anything at all. Can one life or one kill make really a difference?

The movie does provide an unique look into the minds of suicide terrorists. This is still where most of the movie its controversy comes from. You also have to remember this movie got released in 2006, when the whole subject was even more controversial, due to the whole state and situation the world was still in at the time. Perhaps the movie would be considered somewhat less controversial if it got made and released today. But you could also turn things around and say that the movie got released at a perfect and relevant place in time.

But really, this movie is not approving or glorifying terrorism in any way. On the contrary quite really, in my opinion!

It's also refreshing for once to see things from the perspective of suicide bombers and show their human side. It's not like they are happy to go, or are completely without doubt. They actually question their coming actions constantly and wonder if it's really the right thing to do. The closer they get to their 'goal' the more doubts and questions start to arise in their heads. You also won't sympathize for them but you will perhaps understand their actions and motives better after watching this movie.

Again, this movie won't turn you pro-Palestine or pro-Israel but it does shed an unique light on the whole situation and tells the story from a side that is not often being handled in movies or documentaries.

A true daring project from director and writer Hany Abu-Assad, who ultimately did a great job at telling the story. It's a skillfully made movie, that is realistic looking and feeling, which makes it a bit of a shame that the script is also being filled by some not so likely developments, that perhaps belong more in a less serious or heavy thriller. This is the case in the second half of the movie and the only reason why I just can't really call this movie a perfect one or an absolute must-see.

Nevertheless, the movie still remains a very effective and successful one, at what it was ultimately trying to achieve; showing the whole hopelessness, as well as the human-side of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. The conflict as it is and was at the time knows only losers, while the innocents are doing the suffering and are paying the price for it.

8/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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