Review: 'Omar' is heartbreaking tale of love across isolation walls

Sun Feb 23,2014

By Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times Film Critic

There are two distinct images that open "Omar." One is a face; one is a wall.

Both are as resilient as resistant — defining elements and powerful metaphors for all that connects and divides us in Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad's unnerving new drama.

The film first drew attention during last May's Cannes Film Festival where it was the Un Certain Regard jury winner. Now it is in a tight race for the foreign-language Oscar.

The face is Omar's, portrayed by newcomer Adam Bakri, an excellent find for the filmmaker who relies on him to carry the emotional weight of this difficult movie. The wall is one of the so-called isolation walls that crisscross the Israeli-occupied West Bank, sometimes dividing one city from another, sometimes one neighborhood from another.

For Omar, the isolation wall separates him from Nadia (Leem Lubany), the young woman he loves.

But walls are made for scaling and within seconds he scrambles over, outruns security forces and is knocking on Nadia's door, ostensibly to see her older brother. Tarek (Eyad Hourani) is a friend from childhood who's grown up to be a major player in the local resistance.

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