Not a Keeper
Before watching "The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam" my knowledge of Omar Khayyam was that I had heard the name, after watching it I knew only a little more. But what I did learn is that Kayvan Mashayekh who wrote, produced and directed the movie is a man who is obviously passionate about the story and the importance of heritage. Sadly Mashayekh's passion and ambition is his undoing because for an independently financed directional debut "The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam" lacks the quality which the story deserved and to not mince words there was plenty which was uncomfortably amateurish about the movie.
Now "The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam" is a movie of two stories we have the story in the present day of young Kamran who is told the story of Omar Khayyam by his dying brother. The significance of which is not such a shock when we discover something later on in the movie but it also gets across the importance of passing on stories from generation to generation. What this also means is that we also get the story of Omar Khayyam, his love of Darya, his friendship to Hassan and what happened to them as they grew up.
So to be blunt the part of the movie which I hoped would be interesting, that of the story of Omar Khayyam suffers majorly from a general feeling of being cheap and amateur. From nervous acting to inconsistent accents it feels like Mashayekh has called upon some friends to act out the story in order to keep the budget down. But it is not just the acting where it feels cheap as the actual script does too and whilst I learned a little about Omar Khayyam it felt skimpy on detail which again I feel is down to budget constraints.
It is a shame that when the focus is on bringing the past to life that "The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam" ends up feeling weak because when the focus is on the present and young Kamran learning about the past it feels more believable. Adam Echahly who plays Kamran has a naturalness which evades most of the cast and his enthusiasm for learning the story and the importance that he learns makes this part of the movie come to life. And to be honest whilst the majority of the cast I had never heard of there are a couple of surprising names and faces in Vanessa Redgrave and Rade Serbedzija.
What this all boils down to is that "The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam" ended up feeling cheap and amateurish not doing justice to the story of Omar Khayyam. But at the same time you can sense debut director Kayvan Mashayekh's passion for the story and in a way I hope one day he gets to remake his own movie with a bigger budget so he can do it justice.