Not only is TheWrap critic Inkoo Kang dead wrong in stating that the conclusion of Hany Abu-Assad‘s Omar (Adopt, opening today in N.Y. and L.A.) is “weak” and “strangely numbing” and “a tacky resolution.” She’s so dead wrong that I’ve decided that henceforth she needs to be regarded askance. (There’s a difference between having a distinct opinion and apparently missing what other sensible, informed critics have observed.) Salon‘s trustworthy Andrew O’Hehir has described Omar‘s finale as “a shocking final explosion that seems inevitable in retrospect.” And N.Y. Times critic A.O. Scott has declared that “the film’s final scene feels shocking and abrupt, but also chillingly inevitable, consistent with the logic of a situation that defies all reason.”
If you suspect that guys like Scott and O’Hehir aren’t in touch with Average Joes, the crowd of 70somethings with whom I caught my second viewing of Omar (i.e., at last month’s Palm Springs Film Festival) all seemed to be murmuring “whoa…impressive!” when the lights came up.
For what it’s worth I called Omar “one of 2013’s best suspense films” while O’Hehir has said it’s “an expertly crafted thriller” that uses Hitchcockian suspense stratagems. “If Alfred Hitchcock had grown up as a Palestinian, he might have made something like Omar,” he writes “I’m not suggesting that Abu-Assad, a former aeronautical engineer who made the controversial terrorist drama Paradise Now in 2005 (also a foreign-language Oscar nominee), is quite on Hitchcock’s level. But he has a bit of that deviousness and ironic detachment, a bit of that glee in leading the audience into ideological traps and mistaken conclusions.”