Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad, Oscar-nominated for his brilliant 2005 film Paradise Now, has notched another well-deserved Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nod for his latest, the intense and gripping Omar. Adam Bakri delivers a commanding performance as the title character, a Palestinian baker who routinely scales a zoning wall to see his girlfriend, Nadja (Leem Lubany). While most dudes trying to see their girlfriend might find themselves braving a little traffic or dodging overprotective dads, Omar has to dodge bullets and bullying Israeli soldiers to pass a note to his beloved. Omar schemes with his buddies Tarek (Iyad Hoorani) and Amjad (Samer Bisharat) to strike at the Israelis, ultimately taking part in a shooting of an Israeli soldier through a camp gate in the middle of the night. He’s eventually arrested and, while he wasn’t the one to pull the trigger, he’s in a lot of trouble all the same. The imprisoned Omar then endures some horrific torture while refusing to talk. He eventually winds up being interrogated by Agent Rami (Waleed Zuaiter), who affords Omar a chance to leave prison as long as he turns his friends in. The movie then becomes a back-and-forth as Omar struggles with his political loyalties and fears for his future. He eventually finds himself in a strange love triangle involving his girl, as if the problems with Israeli police aren’t enough. In trying to balance his love life, he must also deal with repeated returns to prison and high-pressure demands from Rami. Credit goes to Abu-Assad for making this a powerful political thriller and satisfyingly told love story.
Director: Hany Abu-Assad
Producer: David Gerson, Waleed Zuaiter, Waleed Al-Ghafari, Zahi Khouri, Suhail Sikhtian, Ahmad Zuaiter, Abbas Zuaiter and Dr. Farouq Zuaiter
Cast: Waleed Zuaiter, Adam Bakri, Leem Lubany, Samer Bisharat, Eyad Hourani and Rohl Ayadi