This Oscar-nominated, Palestinian political thriller was attention-grabbing, complicated and shocking. Directed by Hany Abu-Assad and starring Adam Bakri as a flawed but ridiculously handsome baker, “Omar” riveted us. There were parts of the film where Omar was running around his town-running through narrow ally-ways, making detours through strangers’ housings, jumping from building to building- when I could have sworn I was watching a scene in “Aladdin”, only set in Palestine instead of a fictional Disney-town. Then I’d realize that this movie is far too intense and grim to compare to anything a child would enjoy. Also, the fact that Adam Bikra is so handsome almost distracts from the fact that he is a radical who planned the death of an Israeli soldier (who was radical in the complete opposite way). If you really think about the decisions these characters make throughout the movie, it’s hard to sympathize with any one person. Everybody seems violence-driven and extreme.
To get about from the jokes and generalities, “Omar” specifically centers around a young man involved in killing a soldier. He, his childhood friends Tarek (Iyad Hoorani) and Amjad (Samer Bisharat), and a whole other group of resisters are involved in all this tricky political action. He’s caught, imprisoned and tortured. He’s tricked into giving a confession in jail and so begins a crazy trajectory: Agent Rami let’s him go on the condition that he find Tarek, who somebody has ratted out as the killer. Actually, Amjad shot the soldier. Someone lied. Who sold them out? They kill the guy who supposed did, but apparently he didn’t. Amjad did.
Meanwhile, a young woman is entangled with all these men. Nadia (Leem Lubany) is Tarek’s sister who is admired by both Amjad and Omar. She loves Omar, though, and basically has no idea of any of this mess that these boys have gotten into. Omar and Nadia have beautiful, idealistic plans to marry and honeymoon in Paris. They’re romantics. He even found the house they’d live in. They’re really too romantic for tis particular movie. It turns out Amjad sold out his friends because he got Nadia pregnant, and the government found out and made threats. Messy, see? Omar gives Amjad money so that he can marry Nadia, because he is too good of a friend I suppose.
Giving away the ending seems pointless because… because I understood it to a certain degree but was sell left incredibly confused. It was like how I felt at the end of “American Hustle”; all I could think was, “Wait, how did that happen? Is that it?” Long story short, an angry Omar finds out that Nadia was never pregnant and that he could have married Nadia after all. He strikes a deal with Agent Rami. The gist of this plan is that Omar gets to kill Amjad, but he can only do that if he obtains a gun from someone. Agent Rami has his back, of course. And then Omar gets his hands on this gun and decides that instead of demolishing a cactus with his practice shot, he’ll choose a different target. Guess who? Th screen goes black. Whoa.
A lot more happens, I can’t even begin to get into it.
If we look at the relationship between Agent Rami and Omar, this movie is the simplest to analyze. After Omar was first arrested, Rami couldn’t torture any information out of him. So he got another prisoner to tape the confession (which, by the way, was made solely of the words “I will never make a confession.” That’s convincing, right?). How did this prisoner get Omar to talk? He said things like, “Don’t ever confess,” “These people will trick you into trusting someone with your secrets,” and “Don’t ever compromise- don’t agree to work with the wrong side.” Ironic advice maybe? Because this guy was the one with the recorder. He was the insider. And Omar eventually seems to be working with Rami, the enemy, until it turns out this new buddy-buddy attitude was just a farce so that Omar could get a gun and finally kill Rami. Turns out Omar too the prisoner’s advice. I like to think that’s what he (the prisoner) wanted in the first place.
Every other relationship in this movie is not so black-and-white. Omar and Nadia? Omar and Amjad? Did he ever really want to kill Amjad? WILL he after he takes care of Rami? Would he kill a childhood friend over a girl? Are any of these people people good people- what are their boundaries? What were the lies? What was the truth?
A movie filled with love and hate, personal-tensions and political-tensions, humor and darkness, “Omar” really was a wild, thought-provoking film.