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Movies

moVIE REVIEW

Betrayal overlaps with trust in ‘Omar’

“Omar,” one of this year’s nominees for the best foreign language Oscar, is set in the moral quagmire that is the occupied West Bank, and it’s told with a stark, pitiless clarity that leaves you with fewer answers than before. A pilgrim’s progress in reverse, it follows an idealistic young hero on a trajectory in which everything he knows and trusts is stripped away, and it suggests that this is simply what it means to be Palestinian in Israel. The movie lands like a punch.

The title character, Omar (played by a lanky, charismatic newcomer named Adam Bakri), is a baker in the West Bank and part of a small resistance cell made up of the grimly purposeful Tarek (Iyad Hoorani) and Omar’s childhood friend Ajmad (Samer Bisharat). The group has plans to shoot a random Israeli soldier, but Omar is more a lover than a fighter. When we meet Nadia (Leem Lubany), Tarek’s younger sister, we understand why. As the two meet furtively, exchange love letters, and dream about honeymoons in Paris, writer-director Hany Abu-Assad (2005 Oscar nominee “Paradise Now”) creates an aura of fragile romantic tenderness that turns intensely moving as it comes under siege.

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