Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Omar

As noted in the previous review for Bethlehem, I got the titles of these two movies mixed up. I think I had them juxtaposed in my mind because Bethlehem is a superior film in most respects to Omar, which not only shows the Palestinians completely manipulated by Israeli agents, it also shows them to be kind of awful all on their own, even in matters not relating to terrorism.

Omar is the hero of our film, and he and his crew are "usual suspects" frequently rounded up by Shin Bet (presumably it's Shin Bet, I don't recall seeing any identification, though), at which point they're interrogated until they give up their friends. Although considerable pressure is brought to bear on them, apparently the smart ones know not to say anything, since they won't be held if there's no evidence.

But then the fun begins: Omar is pressured into becoming a snitch, which he agrees to while never actually intending to follow through. Regardless, the rumors spread that he has turned, making his life increasingly difficult.

The centerpiece of this story is Omar's romance with his girl, and the money he's saved to make them a good life. But as the smear campaign against him ramps up, he's less and less able to convince her that he's not a traitor.

It doesn't end well for Omar, or for the audience for that matter, since the ending (certainly perceived as the only honorable "out" for him among anti-semites) is ridiculous enough to almost qualify as a power fantasy.

Also, while you might be inclined to sympathize with Omar, who's a straight shooter (heh) in his own tribe, his troubles start when he and his pals murder a random Israeli patrolman.

There is absolutely no guilt for this act. The movie barely recalls this seminal act. It's almost as if the filmmakers believe that, "Yes, Palestinians are going to kill Jews, and that's the order of things. It's the Jews retaliating that is so horrible."

Once again, we find ourselves at the brink of a good movie which completely implodes unless you're willing to accept that random acts of violence are a legitimate way of dealing with grievances. But this isn't even one of the better one of those.

Needless to say, I'm glad La Grand Belleza won over this. Actually, all four of the foreign language movies (The Hunt, The Missing Picture, Broken Circle Breakdown) were way out of this film's league.

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