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Nour: Living With HIV in Egypt
The film takes the form of a real interview with Eman, an HIV-positive woman. It follows her journey starting from the day that she discovered that she was ill, and develops as she tries to adapt herself to her stigma.
The opening scene signifies a barely lit room. Only visible is the painting of a woman, who may be isolated, but looks out on the world with a faint smile. Hidden in the dark, Eman speaks as the mouthpiece of all people living with HIV.
Eman is captivating as she talks about her shocking revelation and the first thoughts that came to her mind when she found out about being HIV-positive. Numb with fear of being rejected by society, she contemplates suicide, an idea that many people with HIV surrender to when they are ostracised from their societies.
While attempting to live with the disease, her spirit fluctuates between courage, anger and loneliness as well as despair. Put in a constant confrontation with death, Eman’s daily life will leave viewers feeling immense sorrow for her hopelessness.
Emotional exile reigns. Eman is cut off from her people, as she searches for the meaning of life in the shadow of impending death. She is on the side of despair, seeing life from a distance. For HIV patients, the self has no refuge, and life is a disorderly confrontation with a dismissive society.
Within Eman, there is a consuming hunger for love, affection and motherhood. Alas, life does not take its natural course for someone who bears alone the horrors of such a disease.
Nour is a film about HIV, but it is not about representations of sexuality. It puts aside all the clichéd images of a person living with HIV, and focuses instead on the artistic demonstration of the inner struggles.
However, the quality of the cinematography could have been better. In the era of 3D pictures, viewers may not tolerate the film’s blurry images.
Nonetheless, it is not every day that you come across Egyptian films that deal with HIV; so check this one out.
She wakes up from her coma to a husband who she doesn’t remember and parents who are overjoyed that she’s forgotten about their dispute. While Paige’s parents try to bring her back to the way of life that she’d rebelled against, Leo tries to help her remember why she’d left all that behind in the first place. Fighting for a wife who doesn’t remember him and is a completely different person than the one he knew, Leo tries to get her to fall in love with him again.
The film rarely gets unbearably cheesy, setting it apart from your run of the mill Sparks adaptation. It gets mushy, emotional and sappy, but it’s more likely to make you smile than roll your eyes. Leo’s pain and heartbreak combined with Paige’s family’s delight at having their daughter back, gives the film a level of grit that keeps it from becoming overly cloying. However, the secret of the film’s success is the leads, who have great chemistry and manage to pass off some of the cheesiness as bearable.
Titled from a popular term which describes the early transfer of a young offender from a juvenile detention facility to an adult penitentiary, Starred Up is by no means an easy watch. However, as much as it is difficult to digest at times, there is a certain poetic beauty behind its seemingly violent and destructive quality that makes it difficult to look away from.
Shot within the walls of an abandoned Belfast prison, the film opens with troubled nineteen-year-old Eric Love (O’Connell) undergoing an embarrassing admittance process, involving a complete body strip down, as he’s transferred into an adult reformatory.
Immediately marked as a “single cell, high risk” type detainee, it doesn’t take long for Eric – whose frequent and violent outbursts got him relocated there in the first place – to stir up trouble and make enemies both with fellow inmates and security guards.
After a mistaken attack on another inmate lands the young delinquent into the disciplinary hands of the law, Eric is soon approached – and rescued – by the in-house therapist, Oliver Braumer (Friend), who believes that he can help the young man rehabilitate.
Unfortunately, getting to the root of Eric’s problems - and getting him to open up - is no easy task and Oliver - together with the other rehabilitating convicts - often find themselves the targets of both verbal and physical abuse. To top it off, Eric has to find a way to learn to share the walls of his new confinements with his estranged father, Nev (Mendelsohn), who is currently serving a life-sentence in the same prison.
Penned by first-time screenwriter Jonathan Asser – a former prison psychotherapist whose own experience with the British penal-system adds a hefty dose of authenticity and realism to the film – Starred Up, told through a series of wordless and violent expositions, is fuelled with gripping intensity which is hard to shake off. Relying on action, rather than words, the uniqueness – and the heart - of the story lies with the father-son narrative, whose bonding difficulties are depicted through the oppressiveness of life in prison.
Contributing to the movie’s relentless and uncompromising approach to despair and violence, O’Connell – mostly known for his role in the British TV-series Skins and recently seen as the lead in Angelina Jolie’s war-drama Unbroken – is an absolute standout; feral and unpredictable, his performance carries the film, while Mendelsohn is equally superb as a man whose persona and motives are seemingly hard to read.
Powerful, emotional but never too sentimental, Starred Up is a true British-prison drama classic whose quietly yielding power and passion for storytelling will leave you feeling captivated and moved.