‘Omar,’ reviewed by Marshall Fine


Who is the traitor?

That question of loyalty, deception and betrayal haunts the Oscar-nominated film “Omar” by Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad, whose dark, weirdly funny “Paradise Now” was also an Oscar nominee. This thriller is about more than the sum of its parts.

Adam Bakri is Omar, a young Palestinian baker in an occupied section of Israel who is in love with his best friend’s sister, Nadia (Leem Lubany). He regularly climbs the massive isolation wall separating him from his beloved, spending his spare time hanging with pals who fashion themselves as freedom fighters. They seek ways to get some measure of revenge for, well, their whole existence as what they see as an occupied nation.

Nadia’s brother Tarek (Eyad Hourani) and Omar’s other pal, Amjad (Samer Bisharat), get hold of a rifle and, simply as an act of defiance, shoot and kill an Israeli soldier. It’s almost on the level of a dare – except that a soldier is dead.

So the Israeli security forces bring down the hammer on Omar’s village, running him to ground and tossing him into prison. He is tricked into making enough of a confession that his Israeli warden, Rami (Waleed Zuatir), can threaten Omar with 90 years in prison unless Omar turns informant.

Israeli-Palestinian politics come into play as Abu-Assad ratchets up the plot twists and tension. But this is not a story about who’s right or wrong in an ageless dispute that continues to elude resolution because of extremists on both sides.

This review continues on my website.

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