Omar makes a powerful statement

Oct 14, 2013

Being a huge fan of Hany Abu-Assad’s previous film, Paradise Now, I had my expectations set high for Omar. Although both films chart similar territory – the Israeli-Palestinian crisis – they are quite different in execution. Both, however, are excellent films, brave enough to delve into the difficulties that face people in the West Bank today.

Omar (Adam Bakri) is a young man who is working as a baker, saving up for a house and entertaining thoughts of marriage with his friend Tarek’s sister, Nadja (Leem Lubany), who is still a schoolgirl.

Tarek (Eyad Hourani) is a freedom fighter and together the two men and another friend, Amjad (Samer Bisharat), plan to shoot an Israeli soldier. Although Amjad is the one who actually pulls the trigger, Omar is the one who gets caught and who is interrogated under horrific circumstances. He is let out to lead the Israeli police to Tarek, but things don’t exactly go to plan in the cat-and-mouse game that is played out in a land where no one is ever really sure of who they can trust.

All performances are convincing and the use of humour really strengthens the narrative. Omar is a thriller, but it’s not just about action. The development of the relationship between Omar and Nadja, which is essential to the story, is beautifully portrayed.

Shot on the West Bank, the film takes us through alleys and over rooftops. It doesn’t look away from the harsh reality of the ongoing conflict and the effect it has on everyone living there. In this respect, Omar is bleaker than Paradise Now.

The concrete wall separating Israel and the West Bank plays a leading role, and even though Omar scales it with ease, it is a powerful statement of how separated two groups of people sharing one piece of earth really are – and how hopelessness and desperation can, and will, creep into your life when you have no freedom to move.

Omar screens again at 11.45am on October 19 at Palace Nova Cinema as part of the Adelaide Film Festival.

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