Hany Abu-Assad is no stranger to creating provocative political films centered around the West Bank. One of his best known movies, 2006's Paradise Now, also brought up tense issues focused on Palestinian-Israeli relations. In his latest feature, Omar, Abu-Assad returns to the difficult, essentially unsolvable problems of those living in the Occupied Territories. Following the complex web of deceit in the life of a baker named Omar (Adam Bakri), Abu-Assad shows us a world where trust is an illusion and love is still the only thing worth fighting for.
Baking by day and plotting the overthrow of the occupation by night, Omar strategizes with his two best friends, Tarek (Eyad Hourani) and Amjad (Samer Bisharat). "Strategizing," of course, almost always means target practice. Tarek's sister, Nadia (Leem Lubany), does her best to remain oblivious to the trio's plotting, instead more preoccupied by her clandestine romance with Omar, who must climb the barrier between his side of the territory and hers in order to meet with her in secret.
Afraid of Tarek's reaction, Omar continues to hold off on telling him about his desire to marry Nadia. The night that Tarek, Amjad and Omar finally decide to go through with their plan to kill an Israeli soldier, Omar is the one who spurs them on to do it in the wake of being harassed and physically abused by some soldiers after coming back from seeing Nadia. Although Amjad is the sole shooter, it ultimately comes back to all three of them when military and government intelligence intervenes to find them. Right at the moment Omar is at last ready to confess his love for Nadia to Tarek, a group of soldiers bursts through the restaurant they're at to capture them. Omar is the only one to be imprisoned.
While in prison, Omar is tricked into admitting his involvement in the shooting. The lead agent on the case, Agent Rami (Waleed Zualter), strikes a deal with Omar: In exchange for his freedom, he must lead the officials to Tarek, seen as the leader of a powerful terrorist organization. When he goes to find Nadia, he stumbles upon her talking to Amjad, who he's always suspected her of having a dalliance with. Upon seeing Omar again, Nadia is elated. Tarek, however, is suspicious of his friend's easily gotten freedom from jail. Rather than obey Rami's requests to lead them to Tarek, Omar tries to evade them, only to be caught and arrested yet again.
Somehow, Omar coerces Agent Rami into freeing him one last time. However, once out for the second go-around, no one among his inner circle is willing to trust him, not even Nadia. It is at this point that Omar begins to veer in the direction of a sordid love triangle, plagued with murder, heartache and a questioning of paternity. Omar as a character ultimately proves himself to be a fundamentally good person forced into engaging in morally questionable actions by the misfortune of his country's circumstance. In the end, the film illuminates the value of self-sacrifice, both for love and for country--even when said self-sacrifice has the likely chance of backfiring (no gun pun intended).