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Wahed Saheeh: Drama About the Perfect Wife and Unrequited Love
Ridiculously translated into ‘A Whole One’, Wahed Saheeh isn’t a romance as much as it is a film about unrequited love.Abdullah (Salama) is the ultimate playboy. He’s also an arrogant douchebag but he’s charming, rich and successful, so girls fling themselves at him anyway. Wahed Saheeh recounts his relationship with four women; Nadine (Basma), Amira (Alloush), Mariam (Raees) and Farida (Yousef). Each one represents a certain aspect of Abdullah’s version of the ideal woman. Nadine is his best friend and knows him better than anyone, Amira’s the only woman he’s been able to emotionally connect with, Mariam is a stereotypical good girl, and he and Farida have great sex. Things get even more complicated as he comes under pressure from his mother to pick a wife and settle down.
Salama is pretty convincing as a charming womaniser with a huge ego; yet his breakdown near the end of the film just isn’t as believable. One scene in particular comes to mind where Abdullah is overcome due to Amira’s disappearance and is ranting and raving to a very sympathetic Nadine. We’re told that Abdullah’s absolutely distraught yet it’s Nadine that looks like she’s just lost the love of her life.
Basma as Nadine is the film’s undisputed highlight. She’s Abdullah’s best friend who happens to be going through a divorce for reasons she hasn’t made him privy to. She does her best to set Abdullah up with her cousin Mariam, whom he takes a fancy to due to her pure, sweet, feminine demeanour. Through Mariam and Amira’s arcs, the film succeeds in critiquing Egyptian society on two fronts.
Firstly, Abdullah and Mariam signify the double standard in our society, where the woman has to be as pure as the driven snow while the man can sleep around. It’s quite clear that Abdullah never loved Mariam or viewed her as his equal; he’s just been conditioned into believing that he’s entitled to a wife like her.
Secondly, Amira’s arc deals with the problems facing interfaith relationships. As a devout Christian, she deals with this problem on two fronts, once in the capacity of Abdullah’s girlfriend and another as the daughter of a man who converted to Islam to marry a Muslim woman. She wants to be with Abdullah but he doesn’t want to go against her religion or subject her kids to the kind of pain and confusion that her dad put her through.
The weakest link character-wise is Youssef’s Farida. She’s a married society wife/doctor who has commissioned Abdullah to work on a project with her. They begin an affair and suddenly this very assertive woman turns into a grovelling idiot when Abdullah throws one of his tantrums. In an unhappy marriage with a gay man that nonetheless afforded her riches, her arc tries, rather shallowly, to explore the concept of marriage as a business contract and not as a romantic union.
The film’s soft focus quality adds to the film’s overdramatic nature, yet the liberal use of US Top 40 songs is really jarring. The way the many storylines are juggled is pretty impressive. The characters are all connected by Abdullah but we also get to know about their lives away from him. And while the extensive use of voiceover manages to cram in a lot more about the characters than would normally be feasible, they still come across as rather shallow and their storylines occasionally become stereotypically melodramatic.
Based on a true story, The Frozen Ground comes from first-time writer and director, Scott Walker. The film focuses on serial killer, Robert Hansen; the man who brutally murdered between 17 and 21 young women during the late 70’s and early 80’s in Alaska.
With only two weeks away from his transfer out of the icy wilderness of the town of Anchorage, State Trooper Jack Holcombe (Cage) finds himself being pulled into the case of Cindy Paulson (Hudgens); a young prostitute who was discovered screaming and chained up in a hotel room, after an unpleasant encounter with local bakery owner, Richard Hansen (Cusack).
Much to the annoyance of his wife, Allie (Mitchell), Holcombe extends his stay to offer his expertise, especially since the local authorities seem to be getting nowhere with the case. Determined to help, Holcombe takes the troubled teen under his wing and examines all of the evidence at hand.
Despite having an alibi, all evidence points in the direction of Hansen – despite his reputation as a family man devoted to his community. But the deeper Holcombe digs, the more macabre the investigation becomes.
While Cage’s most recent career choices might not have been the wisest ones – see Stolen, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and Trespass – the veteran actor proves to be a solid, reliable lead. His reserved and unforthcoming approach is refreshing, and with his hair relatively intact, Cage manages to stand strong in the face of a rather unfocused and fuzzy script.
Cusack – who last shared the screen with Cage in the 1997’s Con Air – is equally sound, as he manages to capture Hansen’s physical characteristics and threatening aura. Disney star, Hudgens, meanwhile infuses plenty of heart into the story as a young, damaged girl.
Despite the film’s relatively strong cast, Walker’s direction is a stumbling mess in comparison. Portraying a real-life story is often a challenge; audiences invariably know the outcome, so creating and maintaining a suspenseful plot is all the more tricky.
Unfortunately for Walker, the suspense and intrigue is weakened by gaping plot holes, needlessly gruesome detailand poor dialogue, which all ends up severely undermining the heart of the story.
The Frozen Ground is neither chilling nor as unsettling as it should have been. Although the film makes good use of the striking, wintry Alaskan landscape, it fails to both utilise the skills of its accomplished cast and, more importantly, it fails to bring what is a chilling true story to life.
Based on real events, Love and Honor - Danny Mooney’s directorial debut – follows one American soldier in his fight for love. However, with it’s glossy, squeaky clean façade, the romantic drama does very little to stir the emotions within.
Set in the late 60’s, the story opens up in the jungles of South Vietnam where two soldiers, best buds Pvt. Mickey Wright (Hemsworth) and Pvt. Dalton Joiner (Stowell) are making their way through the hidden dangers of the tropical forest. Mickey and his arrogance ensures that Dalton – the more edgy of the two – keeps his cool and stays alive in order to return home to his long-time love and girlfriend, Jane (Teegarden).
After the twosome successfully escape the grips of death, they go on a leave of absence; the idea of exploring the Southeast Asian brothels seems like an appealing idea to Mickey, but after receiving a disturbing ‘Dear John’ letter from Jane, Dalton has other plans. Informing him that it’s better if they go their separate ways, Dalton is desperate to win her back, and decides to go home for the week with Mickey following for moral support.
However, upon their arrival they soon discover that the free-thinking youth movement has taken over, including Jane, who has now decided to go by ‘Juniper’. With their presence immediately causing negative attention, the soldiers claim to be peace-seekers deserters. This lie causes Juniper to rethink her feelings for Dalton, whilst Mickey finds comfort in the arms of her best-friend and fellow flower child, Candace (Palmer).
Pinned up high against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, Love and Honor hopes that the up-and-coming Aussie star, Liam Hemsworth will bring in the much-needed credibility and appeal. However, even he found it impossible to overcome the story’s careless script and mechanical ways. Hemsworth’s presence will undoubtedly leave young teenage fans weak at the knees, but as far as his performance goes, the young actor fails to turn the film into anything more meaningful than just another teenage-romance flick. The same goes for his partner-in-crime Stowell, although he managed to bring a bit more versatility to his role. As the boys’ love interest, Palmer and Teegarden were a little too playful and animated to be taken seriously.
The script, written by Jim Burnstein and Garrett K Schiff, plays out like a wistful and a rather tasteless Danielle Steel novel that would later be turned into a small TV-movie. It’s all a little too obvious and eager to please and everything from the costume department to the all too familiar soundtrack, which naturally includes both “Spirit in the Sky” and “Magic Carpet Ride”.
Love and Honor seems fake and insincere; any chances of it becoming a sweet and lovable romantic drama are completely diminished by its conventional, tasteless ways.