Sign in using your account with
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.
Ah, horror sequels – what can you say about them that haven’t been said before? We’re at a point now where not even the most ardent and committed of horror fans can argue the notion that sequels in this particular genre of filmmaking are largely motivated by the prospect of a huge cash-in at the box office. It’s understandable; filmmakers need to make films that make money so that they can make more films.
There are occasions, however, where that motivation is all too obvious and Sinister 2 suffers exactly that. Following on from the relatively unnerving original starring Ethan Hawke, to call this a sequel would be giving the script far too much credit; there are no new ideas or even any kind of continuation with the story of the film’s antagonist, Bughuul.
In the first film, we’re told that Bughuul possesses a child, who then goes on to murder his or her family. The house in which the murder takes place is then essentially haunted, driving the next tenants – who discover videos of the previous murders – away, but back into the arms of Bughuul, where they are murdered by, again, one of the children – and so on and so forth. There are various small details in between the cracks of this vicious cycle – violent dreams, creepy twins, a clan of ghost-kids – but the problem with Sinister 2 is that it revisits all of these elements and expects you to be okay with that. It’s not okay; in fact, it’s terrible. This ‘sequel’ essentially retreads the same skeleton of the plot and, because of a typically rosy ending, is far inferior in terms suspense and expectation – it’s the same but nowhere near as good, is what this review title could have read.
The only glimmer of light to come through the film is the performance of James Ransone, who reprises what was peripheral role in the original as the nameless deputy. There’s a real sense of the character – credited as Deputy So & So – being a kind-hearted, lone-wolf gun-slinger who wants to do good and is often misunderstood because of it. He’s worn-out, he’s tired and he’s always on the move. Aesthetically, the film hits the right notes – but, again, there are no surprises; the family lives in an old, creaky farmhouse, for example.
If ever there was a perfect example of the misguided nature of the film sequel, Sinister 2 is it. You can commend a sequel for trying to build on and expand the original, but this film seems to have regressed.
Following the relative success of The Fault in Our Stars, American author, John Green, sees another of his books come to life on the big screen with the much more uneven Paper Towns. Turning from teen romance, to revenge, to road-trip thriller, the film certainly paces through the plot quickly – possibly too quickly - but it’s the performance of the leads – especially model, Cara Delevingne – that keeps things interesting.
Opposite Delevingne is Natt Wolff, who also starred in The Fault in Our Stars; if this is a coming-of-age story, then it’s his character’s story. The film opens with the main characters, Quentin ‘Q’ Jacobsen (Wolff) and Margo Roth Spiegelman (Delevingne), finding a dead body as kids against the backdrop of Quentin developing feelings for Margo. We then flash forward to our leads in the run-up to their high school graduation and though they’ve drifted apart, it’s suggested that Quentin still very much has feelings for Margo. One night, Margo appears at Quentin’s window and lure’s him to help her take revenge against her cheating boyfriend and the friends who knew about his infidelity. That stretch of action has its own quirks and highlights, but the aforementioned thriller element of the film kicks in when Margo leaves town, leaving a trail of clues for Quentin to find her. It’s this part that very much confirms the film as a teen flick through and through – and this is its big problem.
Film critic Rebecca Keegan put forward a good argument when comparing it to possibly the greatest high school movie ever made, The Breakfast Club, pointing out that there’s something intangible that’s missing from Paper Towns; but that thing becomes all too clear half way through. It’s simply not as profound as it presents itself. Keegan goes on to say that The Breakfast Club lingers in your mind as you enter adulthood – when it comes to Paper Towns, however, that isn’t true, because it explores issues such as unrequited love, finding your path in the world and friendship in very predictable ways.
It’s saving graces, too, are somewhat superficial, but enjoyable nonetheless; the soundtrack, which feature music from Twin Shadow, Santigold, HAIM and Vampire Weekend among others; there’s a typically somber, indie tone to the humour and of course we have the rise of Cara Delevingne and Natt Wolff who both demonstrate what bright futures they have in Hollywood. Apart from that, this is not a film that stings, lasts or moves – it’s just a nice indie movie at the end of the day.