The Falconer is a coming-of-age story involving two friends growing up in Oman. Tariq (Rami Zahar) and Cai (Rupert Fennessy) are as close as can be yet as different as can be. Tariq’s family is traditional. His sister (Noor Al-Huda) is married off at a young age to a man that restricts her movements and abuses her. Cai’s family, on the other hand, are in Oman on business and are rarely around. Tariq and Cai work at a zoo. While Tariq finds the work grueling, Cai loves working with animals. Cai knows an array of facts about animals and is passionate about conservation. Tariq states unequivocally that he cares more about people than animals. Even in the face of all these differences in background and temperament, somehow their friendship works.
Pressures from the outside start encroaching on Tariq and Cai’s friendship. The black market for wild animals seduces Tariq and then in turn Cai. They steal animals from the zoo. Cai purloins a falcon. There is something majestic and unique about the falcon that makes Cai not want to sell it. He dedicates his time to training the falcon. Tariq, on the other hand, takes an active interest in helping his sister get a divorce from her husband. His sister can only be freed from her husband if a sizable amount of money is given to the husband as compensation.
Directors Seanne Winslow and Adam Sjöberg craft The Falconer with a steady hand. The story of the young men is paced unhurriedly and without artifice. If there is one complaint, it would be that early on one can foresee all too clearly where the plot is headed. It is too evident that Cai’s love for the falcon will conflict with Tariq’s love for his sister; thus, causing a strain in their friendship. But, despite this flaw, the plot does set up the thematic conflict alluded to by Tariq involving his preference for humans over animals. It is worth mentioning the performance of the two young men. Zahar and Fennessy convey a warmth toward each other that one feels will transcend any turbulent patches. They are talents worth watching.
The Falconer not only tells us a story about friendship but also about Oman. We are immersed into the country’s landscape and culture. Both landscape and culture come together in the practice of falconry. Though the beauty of the country does make you want to grab your passport and book a flight today, The Falconer does not avoid some of the country’s issues. Tariq feels as though he has no good career prospects if he stays in the country. Cai, on the other hand, is enchanted by the country; but that is simply due to the fact that he can leave and return thanks to his parents’ income bracket. The Falconer is yet another example of world cinema’s ability to merge the gap between the universal and the culturally specific. One hopes that more upcoming films will tell the stories of Oman.
– Ray Lobo (@RayLobo13)
Seanne Winslow and Adam Sjöberg; The Falconer movie review