As in his Golden Globe-winning 2005 drama Paradise Now, Israeli filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad takes a complex, personal approach to a touchy political-religious situation in this Palestinian love story. It's not always an easy film to watch, but the characters are likeable, simply because they're so recognisably authentic, even if the setting and their actions may be unfamiliar.
In a village bisected by the 8-metre tall Israel-Palestine wall, Omar (Adam Bakri) is a young Palestinian guy trying to have a normal life. He's in love with Nadia (Leem Lubany), sister of his best pal Tarek (Iyad Hoorani), but can't get up the nerve to ask for her hand. He's also got competition from their friend Amjad (Samer Bisharat). But things take a very dark turn when the three guys go out one evening to shoot a random Israeli soldier, out of frustration over years of brutal treatment at the hands of the Israeli security forces. Arrested and tortured, Omar is given an impossible choice by Israeli Agent Rami (Waleed F. Zuaiter). And now all of Omar's hopes for the future seem to be in jeopardy.
Abu-Assad tells this story with remarkable honesty, never shying away from either small joys or painful realities. The picture is almost of Israel as a schoolyard bully using brute force to push around the scrawnier Palestine, who's too scrappy to give up without a fight. In this setting, the sense of life as an oppressed minority is overpowering to watch. And Abu-Assad also shows the frustration of Israelis whose own personal lives have been disrupted (although not to remotely the same degree).
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Guest and HANY ABU-ASSAD - Celebrities attend TheWrap.com 5th Annual Pre-Oscar Event at Culina Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel. - Los Angeles, California, United States - Wednesday 26th February 2014
Said (Kais Nashif) may be strikingly handsome with his scraggly curls and piercing eyes, but consider his dead-eyed gaze for a moment and you realize he's living on a whole different planet. Since his boyhood, Said has both begrudged and sought to distance himself from the legacy of his father, found to be a collaborator with the Israelis and, hence, executed. Said's close friend, Khaled (Ali Suliman), likewise nurses a deep-rooted shame for his father, who he once witnessed capitulating with Israeli soldiers. Said and Khaled have since formed a pact to give their lives together to the Palestinian cause, and go out in a redeeming blaze of glory.
Continue reading: Paradise Now Review
He's certainly not wasting his newfound talents.