The suicide bomber narrative has intrigued many filmmakers. We first saw it with Hany Abu-Assad’s masterpiece “Paradise Now”, where he gave a human face to the terrorist without asking the audience to sympathize with him. Iraqi-Dutch director Mohamed Al-Daradji has walked in Abu-Assad’s footsteps, with Sara’s (Zahraa Gandour) compelling and emotional story in his latest film “The Journey”.
The film follows the story of Sara, a suicide bomber with a mission to “purify” Baghdad via explosives wrapped around her. She plans to set them off in Baghdad’s newly reopened train station, packed with military soldiers and police officers. Sara crosses paths with a flirtatious hustler named Salam (Ameer Ali Jabarah). She soon takes him hostage, refusing anything to interfere with her plan. As we follow their journey, Sara and Salam are forced to examine their faith and beliefs.
Even though it is set in one place, Al-Daradji never fails to deliver a thrilling and compelling storyline that kept us on the edge of our seat. The enthralling cinematography and set design helped transport the audience to the post-war chaotic city of Baghdad.
The film witnessed the birth of talented actress Zahraa Ghandour –with a few words and captivating eyes she delivered a strong and convincing performance of a hollow, brainwashed suicide bomber.
The Journey was part of the thirty four Arabic films selected to screen in Cairo Cinema Days Festival organized by Zawya Cinema Cairo.