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The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam (Unrated)

Release Date: January 13th, 2006 (NYC-Landmark Sunshine Cinemas) by Arrival Pictures.
The Cast: Vanessa Redgrave, Moritz Bleibtreu, Rade Serbedzija, Bruno Lastra, Christopher Simpson, Adam Echahly, Marie Espinosa, Puya Behinaein.
Directed by Kayvan Mashayekh.
In English and Farsi with subtitles.

BASIC PREMISE: Nader (Behinaein) tells his younger brother Kamran (Echahly) about his ancestor, Omar Khayyam (Lastra), an 11th Century mathematician whose love of a beautiful slave girl (Espinoza) ruined his friendship with Hassan (Simpson).

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Essentially two movies in one, The Keeper jumps around from present to past as 12 year-old Kamran listens to his dying brother Nader pass on the legend of Omar Khayyam to him. Nader’s terminal illness seems merely like a plot device which requires Nader to ask him to tell him a story, which just happens to be an important one. You first meet Omar Khayyam as hones his skills as an astronomer, mathematician, and a poet at a young age. Meanwhile, he develops a friendship with a young girl named Darya as well as Hassan (Simpson). When he grows older, he secretly loves her even though he is forbidden to love a slavegirl. The main conflict is that Hassan loves her, too. Unfortunately, with mediocre acting and a stilted script, it’s difficult to truly believe much of what goes on. The transitions between scenes seem too unnatural and even rushed while the musical score doesn’t add much to impress you. Vanessa Redgrave tries to elevate The Keeper when she shows up in the third act for barely ten minutes. She gives a very strong performance as an heiress whom Kamran visits to search for the ending of the legend after Nader dies. Overall, the scenes taking place in the present feel weak, unnecessary and contrived. It would have been more interesting if Kamran had a girlfriend or somebody to share the legend with once he heard it in its entirety.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: In the third act, Kamran’s grandfather tells him two briefly insightful pieces of advice, without getting too deep. One is that the “poetry” of Omar’s life is what made him famous—not that you’re able to sense any of this poetry in the scenes from past. The second is that it’s more important for you to remember what’s in your heart than what’s in your mind. The more emotionally connected you feel to something, the better chance you have of remembering it. Unfortunately, The Keeper lacks an emotional pull at its crux to make you truly remember the legend or the movie itself.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Mediocre acting, stilted script, and unimpressive directing.


IN A NUTSHELL: An interesting premise with a weak script, mediocre acting, and unimpressive directing leaves you with a surprisingly cold feeling.


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