Monday, March 17, 2014

Omar (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway


Director Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now) has a winner in the Academy Award nominated "Omar", a thrilling romantic suspense that is a cousin to the fictions of Paul Bowles, while also maintaining its strength as an edgy star-crossed drama. 

Omar (Adam Bakri) is a young Palestinian baker who is enigmatic and reticent. Though he seems to take all things in stride, his friends are important to him and Omar is torn between the quiet life and joining a spontaneous terrorist organization.

To complicate matters, he is in love with Nadia (Leem Lubany) who lives on the other side of the West Bank Separation Wall. To visit her is to risk getting shot. Indeed, Omar is often scratched and bloody from being a vibrant valentine.

Omar is no hardcore terrorist, yet he is bounced back and forth between his childhood friends: the goofing Amjad (Samer Bisharat) and the severe and violently ambitious Tarek (Eyad Hourani) who is Nadia's brother. Initially unsure about whether to join, he agrees since he wants to score points with Tarek in the hopes of securing Nadia's consent in marriage.

Omar steals a car which is used to kill an Israeli officer. He watches the event through binoculars.

One day there is a sudden raid in a cafe and Omar is hauled in by the Israeli police. He is thrown in jail, savagely tortured and tricked into confession, although he says nothing of weight at the time.

A tough Israeli agent with the attitude of both Columbo and Serpico (Waleed F. Zuaiter) persuades Omar to agree to ratting on his friends and bringing in Tarek, stopping the operation in what ultimately would be a lethal betrayal.

Omar is released. In contrast to past events, (when Omar and Nadia went "Palm to palm" in a kind of "holy palmer's kiss" to paraphrase Shakespeare) now Omar is seething and bent with jealousy in seeing Amjad whisper imagined sweet nothings in the ear of his beloved.

Where before the two lovers met in the open, they now secrete themselves within the darkness of caves and become filled with hurt, miscommunication and distrust. 

Nadia believes Omar to be a collaborator. Omar remains hushed and then at a last moment, tells Nadia that he will take part in an ambush. 

Omar suddenly has nowhere to turn. Even his sweetie wants blood.

The film is a gradual apprehensive tale that sneaks up on you and bedazzles the senses. 

"Omar" works just as well as a Shakespearean stiletto of sadness and circumstance as it does a matinee cliffhanger. There are heart felt scenes with our paramour acting  as charismatic as a Romeo, along with Nadia's wanting rubescent lips fitting a Juliet. But alas, these scenes are meshed together with fast paced thrills as Omar jumps over rooftops, doors, gardens, balconies and windows. Such scenes are reminiscent of The Bourne Identity films only better, because we never reach for the popcorn.

The claustrophobic dilemmas are tangible and real while the combining love tensions that never let go. All of the various  threads will keep you guessing right up until a final Hitchcockian clap arrives that is sure to make you nasham (gasp) in your seat.

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