Tuesday, August 06, 2013


Day two of the festival took me from Saudi Arabia to the West Bank.

Omar, Tarek and Amjad live in the West Bank. Omar is a baker, and he's in love with Tarek's sister Nadja. So far, so ordinary - apart from the feats of athleticism that Omar indulges in to get over the Israeli's security wall to visit his friends. The three men organise the night time shooting of an Israeli soldier -Tarek masterminds,  Omar drives and Amjad shoots. This is where things get less ordinary -when undercover agents come after them, it's Omar that gets caught, tortured and imprisoned. To get out of prison, he undertakes to act as an informant but manages to avoid revealing that Amjad was the assassin. An incredible series of double crosses follows and when the credits roll, the jaws of entire audience were on the floor - not unlike the director's previous film Paradise Now which also takes place in the West Bank. The motivation of the main characters in Paradise Now was religious which contrasts with Omar's more political theme.

Omar and Nadja are beautiful to look at and their habit of writing each other love letters to read when they're apart is completely endearing. In an environment that seems crowded and under constant  surveillance this form of communication seems intensely private.We can't help but be deeply affected by their story

Talking about his film, director Hani Abu-Assad says "At the time I was interested in love stories, particularly tragic love stories, and political thrillers, and I wanted to see if these two genres could merge ". This film is evidence that  they can, and that the merger is totally successful. . The love story is more tragic than Romeo and Juliet's, and the chase scenes would do the Bourne Conspiracy credit. As the characters hurtle through narrow alleys and vault walls, the claustrophobic nature of the West Bank is emphasized. Underlying the whole film is Israel's iron grip on the Palestinian people - it's easy to see which side has the upper hand.

The director says "my job is to let the audience in an entertaining way live in a very difficult situation" . He did his job and you will be more than entertained. Don't miss this one.

Anne's rating 5/5 Ian's rating 5/5

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