Rating Explanation: for mature thematic material and brief strong language
Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review: This gripping look at the Middle East situation is as timely as today's headlines.
DVD Features: Theatrical trailer; Subtitles: English, Franšais & Espa˝ol (feature film only)
Friends Said (Kais Nashef) and Khaled (Ali Suliman) pass their time in the West Bank's Nablus working as auto mechanics and sharing a hookah pipe. Their dreary routine comes to a halt when a Palestinian organization chooses Said to carry out their suicide plot. The men shave, bathe and dress in black suits for their assignment. Friends and relatives aren't told. Said's budding romance with Suba (Lubna Azabal) causes him to rethink the mission.
Director Hany Abu-Assad's even-handed approach is almost journalistic in his nonjudgmental narrative and attention to detail and, it eliminates any partisanship. Instead, it allows him to both explore and criticize Said's reasoning. His largely static, disciplined camera work seems to capture Said's journey rather than asking us to feel for his plight. The movie presents Said's motivations to act as well as Sabu's motivation to try to stop him as personal, not particularly political. Said isn't driven by nationalism or the desire for a Palestinian state. He wants to avenge the shame in his relationship with his late father.
A few comic scenes about final-greeting videos bring some humor to the action. Abu-Assad used authentic locations for the action, filming in both Nablus and Nazareth. Although the film may be criticized for its portrayal of suicide bombers as ordinary guys but it also serves to humanize these people, who find a cause to be so great that they sacrifice their lives for the chance of eternal paradise. Even if they're not even sure that paradise exists.