directed by Hany Abu-Assad
Paradise Now is the story of two young Palestinian men as they embark upon what may be the last 48 hours of their lives. On a typical day in the West Bank city of Nablus , where daily life grinds on amidst crushing poverty and the occasional rocket blast, we meet two childhood best friends, Saïd (Kais Nashef) and Khaled (Ali Suliman), who pass time drinking tea, smoking a hookah, and working dead-end menial jobs as auto mechanics.
Saïd’s day takes a turn for the better when a beautiful young woman named Suha (Lubna Azabal) brings her car in for repairs. From their spirited interaction, it is apparent that there is a budding romance growing between them.
Saïd is approached by middle-aged Jamal (Amer Hlehel), a point man for an unnamed Palestinian organization , who informs Saïd that he and Khaled have been chosen to carry out a strike in Tel Aviv. They have been chosen for this mission as a team, because each had ex press ed a wish that if either is to die a martyr, the other would want to die alongside his best friend.
Saïd and Khaled have been preparing for this moment for most of their lives. They spend a last night at home — although they must keep their impending mission secret even from their families. During the night Saïd sneaks off to see Suha one last time. Suha’s moderate views, having been educated in Europe , and Saïd’s burgeoning conflicted conscience cause him to stop short of explaining why he has come to say good-bye.
The following day, Saïd and Khaled are lead to a hole in the fence that surrounds Nablus, where they are to meet a driver who will take them to Tel Aviv. But here the plan goes wrong, and Saïd and Khaled are separated.
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.
“This is a work of remarkable compassion and insight, given the shape and sharpness of a skillful thriller. Its psychological portrait goes beyond the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and resonates with fanaticism and oppression throughout the world, be it related to a religious, nationalist, or tribal cause. A stunning film from writer/director Hany Abu-Assad.”
– Bret Fetzer
“A heartstopping story whose urgency is starting.”
Los Angeles Times
“A riveting and timely political thriller.”
– Entertainment Weekly
“Rana’s Wedding” – feature film by the same director