Friday, 25 April 2014

REVIEW - OMAR (HANY ABU-ASSAD)


The story that strays only where it's designed to. Nothing happens by circumstance in Hany Abu-Assad's exploitative thriller, which has a plot that circles around itself before completing the loop and securing everything inside. It goes nowhere, and goes there pretty leisurely too; Abu-Assad siphons off scene after scene to develop prosaic relationships, brought to death by insipid acting and a tone-deaf script. Smart little action sequences interject, shot with the same earnestness that spoils the film's drama but is transformed into clarity as soon as people shut their mouths and run off their feet. If his mise-en-scene might be a bit too exact for a film such as this, one that demands more grit, it's at least evidence of artistry and thoughtfulness in a film lacking in both. Abu-Assad looks to our hearts to respond to Omar's repetitive plot, which becomes less successful as those repetitions increase - at first, he evokes the requisite outrage at his protagonist's plight, though with precious little subtlety. He becomes less sympathetic as he makes one questionable decision after another; Omar is by no means alone in this regard, since Abu-Assad seems to have fashioned his plot in such a way that necessitates his characters to display nothing but idiocy from first to last. And he treats his audience in a similar manner, driving home every point, lingering on a moment to ensure that we've missed nothing, lest his actors' wooden performances have omitted anything (not likely, given the simplicity of the setup). Perhaps more offensive is the treatment of the current Palestinian situation, from its fundamental aims (cheapened and betrayed) to the complexities in the nation's struggle with Israel that have developed over the years (ignored). Yet Omar is so reliant on this struggle to propel it forward. Maybe that's why it doesn't go forward at all - it just goes nowhere.