|In a crazy world, what do the problems of little people ever really amount to?|
|LOVE DURING WARTIME|
Dir. Hany Abu-Assad
Starring: Adam Bakri, Waleed Zuaiter, Leem Lubany
Review By Greg Klymkiw
In the final moments of his stunning Oscar-nominated thriller Omar, Director Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now) slams you with a two-by-four to the face, but good-goddamn, it's satisfying. Knowing this is going to be no spoiler, no surprise, no shock whatsoever since the picture's flesh-curdling slow-burn is punctuated every so often with jolts of breathtaking ferocity.
Violence, however, is always contrasted with sweet and delicate moments of precious humanity which, like oases, lull you under the hot sun of the West Bank - so much so that it's not as if you never expect the conclusion will do anything but knock you on your ass, leaving you both winded and perversely elated. Like the best thrillers, you never see the worst coming. You feel it's an inevitability, to be sure, but even so, it doesn't mean you aren't clutching the arms of your seat, ready for anything at any given moment.
If truth be told, this surely comes as close as we're likely to get on film to what life must be like along the wall that separates the colonized and the colonizers amidst a never-ending conflict that feels omnipresently close to all of us in spite of being worlds away from what one outside of the ongoing deadly dissent is normally used to. Can we ever really know what such a life must be like without actually being there and living it? Of course not, but watching Omar, it's a testament to Abu-Assad's exemplary gifts as a filmmaker that we feel we're as mired in the thick of it as we ever want to be.
The film's greatest triumph, however, is its unwavering humanity in the face of war's utter madness and that for much of the film, we're carried along by both love and commitment to such a degree that Omar is as much a condemnation of this way of life - on both sides - as it is a testament to loyalty in the face of betrayal. It doesn't take much to see that the problems of little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.
But, oh, they do. They most certainly do.
"Omar" is in theatrical release via Mongrel Media.