Hany Abu-Assad’s superb drama “Omar” has a built-in controversy, within its competition for Best Foreign Language Film at the very least: it’s the first movie the Academy has recognized, without qualifiers, as having been made by “Palestine.” A love story, a twist-enriched chase thriller set in realistic locations, and possessed by an inspired ending, “Omar” may be more riveting than Abu-Assad’s Oscar-nominated suicide-bomber drama “Paradise Now” from 2006. The “Isolation Wall” and a tunnel separate two lovers (Adam Bakri, Leem Lubany), and that separation inspires Omar, a baker, to take up arms. “There are only two types of love stories,” Abu-Assad has written, rightly, “the tragic and the comedic.” The script’s epic complications, especially Omar’s decision to collaborate with an Israeli agent (Waleed F. Zuaiter), demonstrate that insight, and Abu-Assad’s skills as practical filmmaker as well as dramatist enriches the nail-biting experience. With Samer Bisharat, Eyad Hourani. 98m. (Ray Pride)
“Omar” opens Friday, February 28 at Landmark Century. A clip is below.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor of Filmmaker magazine. He is also a photographer: his history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images is forthcoming; previews on Twitter (twitter.com/chighostsigns) as well as daily photography on Instagram: instagram.com/raypride. Twitter: twitter.com/rayPride. (Photo: Jorge Colombo.)