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The Terrorist (2000)

The Terrorist focuses on the philosophical dilemma of suicide in the name of a greater cause, or at least, what one believes to be the case. The tale of a young, patriotic girl named Malli (a fine performance from Ayesha Dharker) who wishes to follow in the footsteps of her brother (who died as a martyr year ago) is stripped of all political, religious, and social contexts, instead choosing to charge the story exclusively with the gravity of self-induced destruction in the name of a greater cause. Malli is selected from a group of wiling females to infiltrate the welcoming ceremonies of an unnamed V.I.P., ready with a bomb pack and detonator when the individual is close and unprotected. The film succeeds in illuminating the motivation for an act that is all too common in this modern world’s political turmoil, as individuals in baseless societies, many easily swayed by religious promises of glory and honor, quickly find that what they achieve in death can be far more beneficial to their cause than what the accomplish in life. Its choice to present its story without specifics allows for more freedom of ideological exploration without being hampered by contextual details, but is also paradoxically limiting in its ultimate commentary on real-world violence (the use of a plot twist to help justify Malli's ultimate decision on whether to go through with the suicide attack or not is an argumentative disappointment as well). Nonetheless, The Terrorist operates above the misguided belief that violence can end violence, and argues in favor of peaceful resolution over acts that can only lead to endless bouts of retribution. With lush cinematography and a stunning use of contrasting focus between the foreground and background (which often simulates the heavy psychological burden Malli bears, as she shifts from determined to indecisive in her call to martyrdom), the film emphasizes the many values that can be found even in a life hampered by oppression. The final, quite perfect shot is a triumph of the human spirit over the seduction of its destructive tendencies, and a call for peace amidst senseless chaos.