Thursday, March 13, 2014

Short Cut Movie Review: Omar

Short Cut Movie Review is normally less than 400 words, but in some cases may go slightly over. This is my attempt to keep writing about as many films as I see without getting bogged down with trying to find more to say. They are meant to be brief snapshots of my reaction to a movie without too much depth.

I almost can’t believe Omar snagged a nomination for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Writer-director Hany Abu-Assad has taken an otherwise thematically interesting tale and designed it as a film with no teeth. Here’s the story of a Palestinian freedom fighter (er, terrorist) who is coerced into aiding Israeli intelligence in capturing his friends. Think of the great dramatic possibilities with this story. Think of all the internal conflict Abu-Assad could depict within Omar (Adam Bikri). Instead he turns it into a minor romantic struggle. He’s in love with the younger sister of his terrorist partner, Tarek (Iyad Hoorani). So is his childhood friend, Amjad (Samer Bisharat). If he goes to prison, he misses out on the life he dreams of having with Nadia. If he turns her brother in, he will forever be a traitor.

Then again, maybe it’s less the material that fails to express the real drama of the storyline, than it is the amateur acting. Bikri has one facial expression. And I’m not exaggerating. He really never changes the look on his face, wither he’s cooing with Nadia, lunging toward an Israeli soldier, or getting tortured in prison. As Nadia, Leem Lubany isn’t much better. The overall production is on the amateurish side as well. The shots are oddly composed and the editing jarring. I’ve never noticed editing so much. This was just a pure disappointment all around, especially coming from the director of the much better Paradise Now.

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