Nominated for Best Foreign Film at this year’s Oscars, ‘Omar’ follows a young Palestinian man who struggles to balance his love life with his disastrous political surroundings.
Shot in the West Bank, the opening scene of ‘Omar’ sets the tone for the entire film. The title character, played by Adam Bakri, is seen climbing over the separation wall in the West Bank in order to visit a young Palestinian girl named Nadia whom he has developed deep feelings for.
Many could consider the film, directed by Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu Assad, an accurate depiction of modern-day Palestinian life. A majority of the film focuses on Palestinians struggling to conform to Israel’s occupation, often times forcing themselves to turn on each other out of fear and paranoia.
As Omar’s relationship with Nadia develops early on in the film, it is soon interrupted when he is captured by an Israeli agent named Rami, played by Waleed Zuaiter, who suspects that Omar and his friends were involved in a shooting that left an Israeli soldier wounded.
Faced with pressure from Israeli authorities, Omar is faced with a dilemma: either turn in the friend who shot the Israeli soldier or spend the rest of his life in prison. The film takes an interesting turn when Omar is released by Israeli authorities and his friends and love interest begin to doubt his loyalties.
The film also boldly depicts the interaction between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian civilians. In one scene, Omar, while walking home, has a run-in with Israeli soldiers who force him to stand with one foot on a rock and his hands on top of his head. The soldiers taunt him for hours until Omar loses his cool.
By the end of the film, there seems to be a sense of hopelessness and despair among the Palestinian characters. Hopes, dreams and plans are shattered by the reality of their surroundings. While the underlying message in the film may be a hard pill to swallow in Hollywood, it is, nonetheless, an accurate one.
“Omar” is now playing at Star Fairlane in Dearborn and at the Emagine theater in Novi.
– Samer Hijazi