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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