Amn Dawlat: Uneven Egyptian Comedy
Hamada Helal stars as Hossam El Farshooti, an unwilling Amn El Dawla
(Egyptian State Security) officer whose star is rising due to a number of lucky
accidents. His latest mission is to guard a politician’s five kids and their
senile granny who are being threatened by a terrorist group who want her to
abandon her plans to reveal some explosive information about Israel to the UN,
until she returns.
Tonally, Amn Dawlat is like
two different films. On the one hand, you have the parts that focus on the
funny which are mostly light-hearted and amusing. On the other hand, you have
the preachy parts and the scenes that deal explicitly with the revolution.
Thankfully, the former outweighs the latter. Unfortunately, the latter is
condensed in the second half thus leaving a bigger imprint on your memory.
Helal is pretty adept at comedy and does especially well with the
physical aspects. He isn’t a grating presence on screen and the few times he
resorts to Mohammed Saad-like facial expressions can be easily disregarded due
to their infrequency. He has two song performances in the film; one during a
wedding, the other during a birthday party. While the latter was overkill and
felt rather forced, the former was actually pretty fun. His being a
professional singer doesn’t hurt either.
While Hossam’s mission starts off badly, with the kids turning out to be
more than a handful, they predictably start to bond and care about each other. Watching
the kids making life difficult for him and seeing the way he reacts is fun, but
it’s when he starts trying to fix their lives that the film becomes downright
preachy. This could have been forgiven had it not been followed up by a couple
of monologues about the revolution and about how people shouldn’t be scared of
taking a stand against Amn El Dawla’s inhumane treatment of their prisoners.
It’s a great sentiment but we don’t need to be lectured about it. Besides, the
beginning of the movie showcased Hossam strolling through Amn El Dawla’s
headquarters while seeing bloody and mangled prisoners being tortured in
increasingly horrific and inventive ways. This scene, which was played to comic
effect, made the same point in a far more successful way.
In addition, this whole thing with the female lead’s first appearance
being a hair-blowing in-the-nonexistent-wind, stop-you-in-your-tracks kind of
entrance has to stop! So do the completely out-of-character outfits. Seriously,
what kind of school guidance counsellor dons a short, tight white skirt paired
with a huge belt to school? Yeah, exactly. None. Costume Designers: It is
possible for an actress to look absolutely stunning without completely
disregarding the character she’s playing especially when the actress is very
pretty to begin with.
and thankfully, Amn Dawlat isn’t
nearly as bad as its poster would imply. It has a solid, funny first
half that is unfortunately brought down by an occasionally preachy second part.