“Omar” a Return to Form for Star Palestinian Film Maker.

Hany Abu-Assad's "Omar".

Hany Abu-Assad’s “Omar”.

Hany Abu-Assad’s third film Paradise Now (’06) was one of the films of the last decade. Detailing the lives of a pair of suicide bombers from Nablus as they prepare for their mission on Tel Aviv, it managed to be impassioned and yet somehow relatively impartial.

Or at the very least, as impartial as it can ever be for a Palestinian film maker born in Israel to make a film about what life is like for those condemned to live in the Levant.

He was lured to the States for The Courier in 2012, which went straight to video, but he is back on home ground for this his fifth film, Omar.

Adam Bakri and Leem Lubani in Omar.

Adam Bakri and Leem Lubani in Omar.

Omar is one of a trio of young men, friends since childhood, whose sole aim is their opposition to Israel. But they do what they do un-thinkingly, automatically, in much the same way that monks attend to their daily prayers. It’s just what they do. And in between, they live their lives as anybody else does.

Except of course, that what they do radically colours and irrevocably transforms every other element of those lives that they are trying to live. Family, careers, planning for the future and most of all love, are all given a hopelessly dramatic edge because of the backdrop against which they must all be enacted.

Omar is a less political and a much more personal drama than Paradise Now was. But it is every bit as powerful. And what it does demonstrate, is that Abu-Assad has learnt to parcel out his dramatic twists and turns almost as impressively as the modern master of personal drama, Iran’s Asghar Farhadi (reviewed earlier here). The ways in which Omar’s life, both his private and his public ones, unravel is painful to behold.

The Levant is a wonderful corner of the world to have to go digging for drama in. But it’s almost inconceivable that that drama should be found on the surface of real people’s actual lives. And not in the fiendishly depraved depths of an unholily imagined Hell.

You can see the Omar trailer here. And the Paradise Now trailer here.

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