February 21, 2014 at 1:00 am

Tom Long

Review: 'Omar' is a classic romance set within political tragedy

Leem Lubany and Adam Bakri have a doomed love in 'Omar.' (Adopt Films)

A story of love and betrayal set against political tumult and violence in Palestine, “Omar” is both classic and painfully present in its concerns.

At its center is a chaste love story. Omar (Adam Bakri) is in love with Nadia (Leem Lubany), the sister of his friend Tarek (Iyad Hoorani). Omar hasn’t told Tarek of his love, which presents one problem. Another problem is that a third friend, Amjad (Samer Bishrat), also is smitten with Nadia.

So there’s your classic love triangle, but this isn’t being played out just anywhere. Tarek, Omar and Amjad are also Palestinian freedom fighters, and early on they sneak out into the night and kill an Israeli soldier.

They find out that one of their fellow fighters is a traitor when police bust into a cafe where they’re eating. The three run, but Omar gets caught and is taken off to prison, where he’s tortured and thrown in solitary confinement. Eventually he’s tricked into what passes for a confession and he’s looking at 90 years in jail.

Omar then pretends to turn snitch, and his captors let him out of prison on the condition that he bring them the person who killed the soldier. Omar gets out, goes straight to Tarek to tell him the truth, but finds himself looked on with suspicion. After a bungled ambush, that suspicion deepens among his former friends.

Meanwhile, his relationship with Nadia is falling apart, and his old friend Amjad seems to be capitalizing on her crumbling faith.

Director Hany Abu-Assad (“Paradise Now”) is full of surprises, and the film twists this way then that right up to its final minutes, with Omar becoming increasingly entangled in political intrigue and romantic wreckage. Love is always a challenge; in Omar’s world it seems near impossible.



Not rated

Running time: 96 minutes


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