Everybody understands what’s what in the caged West Bank locale of Hany Abu-Assad’s new political thriller, ‘Omar’, where double and triple crossing is the norm and somebody once famously spray graffitied “Ich bin ein” (“I am a Berliner”) on a emblematic concrete separation barrier that’s topped with the obligatory concentration camp style barbed wire.


The frantic chase scenes shot in the labyrinth of narrow streets – glorified alley ways – inevitably bring to mind the ‘Battle of Algiers’ but the dynamics are very different here.  There can be no winner; a contaminated half-backed resistance to self defeating ‘Big Brother’ external occupation, which feeds the region’s instability that naive politicians, so-called major players, once thought it would eliminate.


This is what paranoia feels and smells like from close quarters with pawns from both sides negotiating the ramifications of a historical mishap that defines the future in a way that defies political reality.


Adam Bakri brings intensity and sensitivity to the title character, a strikingly handsome militant, who has formed a terrorist cell with two friends from childhood.  He is ruthless in the name of the cause but turns his hand to poetry when exchanging secret love letters with Nadia, the cell leader’s sister.  It comes across as young love with a charm and innocence that will strike Western viewers as a throw back to a lost age but there is more to Nadia than meets the eye.


Waleed Zuaiter plays Israeli security agent, Rami, who could pass for being Palestinian.  He interrogates Omar but they form an obvious bond that’s never discussed or acknowledged; both men being acutely aware of a forbidden territory where friendship is far worse than collaboration.  The film’s best scene has Rami on the phone to his wife when “stuck in the middle of the fucking West Bank” and Omar causally watches the man behind the security mask, momentarily forgetting all divisions.


And this takes us to the film’s core, the complex mingling of the political and the quotidian where betrayal and torture conceal the real tragedy.


The film occasionally outgrows its thriller format, appearing a little forced near the end, but this a small gripe for an otherwise throughly compelling 96 mins.

i tend to use my mac’s desktop as a place to dump the files i’m currently working with, and as a writer and app reviewer, that means i’ve got a dozen or more screenshots and markdown files on my desktop at any given time

June 15th, 2014 - admin

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