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460. The Journey; movie review

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Title : 460. The Journey; movie review
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Cert TBA
82 mins
BBFC advice: TBA

When we hear about the stories of suicide bombings, news reports rightly concentrate on the background of the victims rather than the perpetrators.
Little is known about how such people are recruited or their state of mind in the lead up to the murderous act.
Mohamed Al-Daradji's The Journey is quite different from any film because it focuses sharply on a young woman who is intent on blowing up herself and many others.
Zahraa Ghandour plays Sara who is presented as determinedly aggressive in her intention to wreak mayhem and kill herself at the same time.
Her planned attack is set in 2006 on the day of the official re-opening of Baghdad railway station.
She is seen weighing up where would be most effective to detonate the bomb which is strapped to her chest but is delayed by what she sees unfolding.
The station has fewer dignitaries or military than she expected - instead its population is made up of orphaned children and musicians trying to eke a living.
Meanwhile, her plans are drastically altered by an unwanted and awkward encounter with Salam (Amir Ali Jabarah), a self-assured and flirtatious salesman. 
She takes him hostage but he battles desperately to appeal to her humanity and sway her decision. Therefore, faced with the life and innocence she had been so willing to destroy, and pressure from her handlers, she is on the horns of the most profound of dilemmas.
The Journey is a powerful piece of work - largely because it doesn't go straight for the terrorists bad/victims good approach of Hollywood studios.
Sara is a real person who has been convinced, through the tragedy which has unfolded in her country, that she is doing her duty in the eyes of her God.
However, she is then forced to weigh that up against the stark reality.
Ghandour excels in the lead role, totally believable as a woman who is initially convinced of her actions but very gradually becomes more unclear.
The poignancy of her performance is heightened by the introduction of a handful of characters whose lives would be ended if she goes ahead with her act.
The skill of Al-Daradji is to take an extraordinary event and shroud it with very normal people.
It makes for a film which certainly grabs the attention.

Reasons to watch: An unusual take on the horror of terrorism
Reasons to avoid: It lingers for a while and its ending is disappointing

Laughs: None
Jumps: One
Vomit: None
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 8/10

Director quote - Mohamed Al-Daradji: "As an Iraqi filmmaker, I felt a responsibility to fully explore a topic I cannot comprehend, and understand what lies behind these acts."

The big question - Is this really what goes through the mind of a suicide bomber?

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