Hany Abu-Assad’s (pictured below) “Omar” is nominated for an Academy Award, as was the Palestinian director’s film “Paradise Now,” also about life in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The film again brings sharply into focus the indignities large and small suffered by Palestinians on a daily basis. With the intensity of youth, baker Omar and his friends learn to bear the unbearable but also find ways around strictures.
A graffiti-covered wall stands as constant reminder of the difficult and sometimes impossible task of maintaining a life, friendships, love. Over and over, Omar (handsome newcomer Adam Bakri) must scale that wall and drop to the other side if he is to see his love interest, Nadja (Leem Lubany). All he and his two childhood friends want is to kill an Israeli soldier, any soldier. When the opportunity finally arises, Omar is not the one to pull the trigger but he is the one who gets arrested by the Israelis and left with a single option. In the harsh environment of the war-torn zone that are the occupied territories, nothing is easy and every line is murky. Occupation and collaboration have their own rules. The points raised by this film are heartbreaking, so is the fact that after Omar betrays his friends to the Israelis, he is lost no matter what; either he is blackmailed into continuing to collaborate with the occupant or he faces certain death. Either way, betrayal and suspicion replace innocence and the right to happiness in what should be the best years of one’s life.
This tight thriller-love story focuses on the protagonists’ various dilemma that all lead to a doomed conclusion, rather than on the larger environment and history. But these loom large and the odds remain impossible. Omar and Nadja can plan all they want of going to Paris for their honeymoon. As far as they are concerned, Paris is on a different planet and the spaceship that could take them there has yet to be built.