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El Da'eya: Ramadan Mosalsal Delves into the Peculiar World of Egyptian TV Preachers
Written by Medhat El Adl and directed by Mohammed El Adl, El Da'eya (The Preacher) stars Hany Salama and Basma, and revolves around the personal life of an Islamic preacher who finds love in the most unexpected of places.
Youssef (Salama) is a young Islamic preacher who has gained fame and following over the years, appearing on all the biggest shows on television to spread his message. The story attempts to put Youssef into context; it delves into his personal life, who he is at home with his family and what led to him becoming that famous, sought-after preacher that he is.
The series begins with us seeing Youssef on television, where his audience is shown to include people from all walks of life; everyone from disenfranchised youth, to ladies of upper-class ladies of luxury. The production succeeds in creating sequences and scenes that largely speak for themselves, while the score by renowned Egyptian composer, Omar Khairat, plays a significant role in the series as a whole. However, these factors fail to cover the show's real weaknesses.
The critical problem lies with the two leads. Salama shows little versatility and takes on his role in a similar vein to previous turns in Kheyana Mashrou'a (Planned Deceit) and El Safah (The Killer). The first few episodes have thus far presented Youssef as a stern, cold and superficial character that lacks the depth and complexity of a lead role. Basma's performance so far has been equally us underwhelming as a revolutionary violinist who rejects all political Islamic.
On the other hand, the supporting cast is the show's saving grace. Ahmed Fahmy is a wonderful actor who we'd expect to see in a leading role next year, and Reham Abdel Ghaffour, Ahmed Rateb and Samy El Adl also master their roles, while Ahmed Magdy, Rahma Hassan, Mohammed Sharnouby and Mohamed Youssry prove to be solid choices.
Overall, however, El Da'eya seems to be resting on the fact that the plot represents a very important time in Egypt, both historically and politically. But poor performances and timid dialogue don't do the subject matter justice. Let's hope it gets better.
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.