Metascore
71

Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 32
  2. Negative: 0 out of 32
  1. Of all the shocks in the riveting and timely political thriller Paradise Now, the most unsettling may be the dignity bestowed on a pair of prospective Palestinian suicide bombers.
  2. It's a volatile subject and Abu-Assad's thoughtful thriller stokes the debate.
  3. Along the way, Paradise Now sustains a mood of breathless suspense. Politics aside, the movie is a superior thriller whose shrewdly inserted plot twists and emotional wrinkles are calculated to put your heart in your throat and keep it there.
  4. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    88
    A thoughtful, unsparing look at a controversial subject: suicide bombing.
  5. The film is better than the recent "The War Within," which tried for the same things, but ultimately, and perhaps unavoidably, we are left face to face with the unknowable.
  6. 80
    Abu-Assad, who made the lovely 2002 film "Rana's Wedding," is a far more gifted observer of the everyday than he is an action director, which is why, in Paradise Now, he productively sidetracks into a persuasive and often very funny portrait of the irrationalities of life under occupation.
  7. A powerful, poignant, provocative drama, it gets its strength from its dispassion, from an uncompromising determination to explain rather than justify or condemn, to put a human face on incomprehensible acts.
  8. Even though no reasonably well-informed viewer will learn much factual information from the picture, it grips; it even torments, because it lets us move and breathe and shiver and resolve with two particular young men.
  9. The details are intriguing, but ultimately we learn little more about what's in their heads.
  10. 75
    Shot in the West Bank, the film radiates authenticity. Even when he plays the action like a thriller, Abu-Assad is in search of a deeper truth.
  11. It's an intricate, sometimes implausible ideological thriller that might be better as a smaller-scaled, less% preachy psychological drama. Still, "Paradise" catches and keeps your attention because of its daring subject, real-life backdrops and the intensity of its actors.
  12. At the stunning conclusion, you feel as if the weight of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has come down on your head.
  13. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    75
    Propaganda is terror's best friend, but Paradise Now is clever enough to make that buddy work for our side for a change.
  14. Paradise Now plays like Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot," but with explosives.
  15. A compelling, tightly made political thriller.
  16. 75
    The film offers food for thought, and reminds us that, in any war, one who understands the mindset of his opponent gains an important tactical advantage.
  17. While nothing truly new or shocking emerges, the film does bring clarity and compassion to its depiction of an act that baffles, angers and sickens people the world over.
  18. 70
    Paradise Now isn't a comfortable viewing experience, but it isn't meant to be. Inevitably, people's reactions to this subject matter -- and this filmmaker's handling of it -- are all over the map. All I can say is that I found it a tremendously compelling existential thriller that kept me up late the night I saw it, and it has resonated in my brain ever since.
  19. The terseness of a thriller, the clarity of a documentary, and a mixture of high drama and low humor.
  20. 70
    While "War Within" takes a deeper, more personal look at its protagonist, Paradise Now is a more ambitious film that better contextualizes its central characters and their politics.
  21. 70
    Paradise Now suffers from some odd continuity glitches and takes a few too many narrative curves en route to an overly convoluted ending, but the heart of the movie is as tense as the bus ride in Hitchcock's "Sabotage."
  22. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    70
    What makes this an important film is the way it puts you in that landscape and in those shoes, so that you almost understand how ordinary human beings can be impelled to do inhuman things.
  23. A valuable film, provided one doesn't ask too much of it.
  24. Paradise may not change anyone's ideology, but it should convince some that, but for some deeply divisive views of religious morality, people are pretty much the same on either side of the holy fence.
  25. 63
    It doesn't take its ideas or its audience far enough. The result is a humanist potboiler.
  26. As a thriller, it's only fitfully suspenseful, and despite the ticking bomb premise, meanders a good deal in its plot convolutions. As a portrait of the absurdity and humiliation of life under occupation, the story is heartfelt but predictable.
  27. Reviewed by: Staff (Not credited)
    60
    There are effective moments of dark humour.
  28. Some won't appreciate the mix of tones, but none of the humor cheapens the film's final blow, nor is it designed to condone terrorism in any way.
  29. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    60
    Handsomely shot in widescreen, mostly on actual West Bank locations, and well-played by the cast, pic lays out the issues in an accessible but rather too over-correct way, seemingly eager to please all parties at the expense of real passion.
  30. Watchable but not very illuminating.
  31. Reviewed by: Phil Hall
    40
    Filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad, who helmed the excellent "Rana's Wedding," missed the boat on this one. He may have hoped to give a human voice to the suicide bombers, but instead he gave them a misfired movie.
User Score
8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 38 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 20
  2. Negative: 1 out of 20
  1. Jul 20, 2014
    5
    The movie started promising, with a good pace and good acting, but sadly fell flat on the floor. It is as if a nice scenery, theatre andThe movie started promising, with a good pace and good acting, but sadly fell flat on the floor. It is as if a nice scenery, theatre and situation has been built, only to remain mute in the most important moment.

    I admit I had high expectations because of all the hype, but I feel that my disappointment is just. The movie pretends to explain and explore the character of a suicide bomber- with his motivations, background and consequences- but this exploration was very artificial. Instead of internal conflict, doubt, fanaticism, volcanic fire or revenge, the suicide bomber is just a guy preaching to you political slogans about occupation, oppression and international injustice. Characters are also prone to long monologues where they aren't interrupted, answered or have their points discussed. It's not surprising that this movie was done by an arab living in Europe since a couple of decades, with european funds and production; it reeks all the time of the distant, elitist and self-righteous discourse that doesn't let the palestinian arab speak for itself, instead reducing him to an indian being killed or opressed by all-distant evil cowboys. The movie lost many chances of exploring good things. Scenes inside Israel where the contrast with Palestine was only hinted at, encounters with settlers, doubts about religion, the family structure in palestinian cities, all of this was only briefly looked at without further exploration.

    The movie had a big potential but didn't fulfilled it. I'm sure all the good reviews and nominations it has are only because of the politics behind it. If it was a movie about sunni suicide bombers in Iraq or christian militants in Lebanon, no one would care. Sadly I was hoping for enlightenment about Palestine without sugar coating and I only got out wondering if the jews would be left alive at all in the situation of arabs winning the '48 war.
    Full Review »
  2. Jun 8, 2014
    6
    Good, but could have been so much better. Was excited about the premise but not the best execution and given to another director could haveGood, but could have been so much better. Was excited about the premise but not the best execution and given to another director could have been a really gripping movie. Full Review »
  3. Jun 9, 2013
    8
    Incredibly powerful and intricately detailed, highly acclaimed and widely controversial. "Paradise Now," is a compelling, tightly madeIncredibly powerful and intricately detailed, highly acclaimed and widely controversial. "Paradise Now," is a compelling, tightly made thriller set in Nablus, on the West Bank, and lays bare the humanity and the horror for all to see. The film provides a gripping and terrifying insight into the mindset of martyrs by turning the camera on two Palestinian suicide bombers during what they assume to be their final 48 hours.

    The story places two close friends, Said (Kais Nashif) and Khaled (Kais Nashif), recruits by an extremist group to perpetrate a terrorist attack, a suicide mission, in Tel-Aviv. Both men are bathed, shaved, and made to look like Israeli settlers; then they are then strapped with explosives, dressed in dark suits, and are off to carry out their orders. However, things go wrong and both friends must separate at the Palestine border. One of two will maintain in his purpose of carrying out the attack to the very end, and the other will begin to have his doubts.

    Despite condoning their actions and motives, you can't but help to watch the film with a fearsome fascination. The film sustains a mood of breathless suspense. “Paradise Now” is a thriller whose shrewdly inserted plot twists and emotional wrinkles are calculated to put your heart in your throat and keep it there. The movie humanizes the anonymous faces we often see in the news. The director and co-writer, Hany Abu-Assad, undercut any heroism of these young martyrs by presenting their everyday actions with moments of dark humor. During one taping of a farewell message, the video camera malfunctions half way through, and he must start over from the beginning. During another taping, one of the bombers interrupts his political sermon with a personal shopping reminder for his mother.

    The ending is gut-wrenching as it yanks the carpet from under your feet. A purposeful statement that strips away any glamour of terrorism, whatever the cause, reason, or rationale they use to justify it. Their inhuman mission aside, "Paradise Now" does compel an appreciation for these unfortunate young men blindly accepting their fate with empty promises. This is the first Palestinian film to be nominated for an Academy Award.
    Full Review »