Friendly, funny and horny – young Palestinians Said (Kais Nashef) and Khaled (Ali Suliman) are people just like us (okay, one out of three ain’t bad). Yet, despite being good kids, working to live and falling in love, they are simply biding their time, waiting to strap bombs to their chests and blow up a Tel Aviv bus. They are the disenchanted Middle Eastern youth, full of loathing few people can ever understand.
However, given the world’s endless spin-cycle of violence, a few more films like Paradise Now would at the very least nudge us towards empathy. The hatred for the West that boils in Said and Khaled is evident everywhere in their bombed-out West Bank town, full of wealthy Israeli occupiers. For them, it comes down to a choice: live in a house that doesn’t feel like a home, or choose a death they’re taught brings glory to their people and guarantees paradise, now.
What makes Hany Abu-Assad’s film uneasy viewing comes in the vulnerability of its leads. You wince as they smoke cigarettes with bombs strapped on, you laugh as their martyr video is bungled, you want Said to get it on with pretty Suha (Lubna Azabal)... but you remain absolutely enraged that they think it’s okay to blow people up.