A word of warning; if you’re interested in seeing this film, make sure you’re in the right mood and with the right group of people. Depending on your circle of friends, you may be better off going alone. The film is long, slow and based on the number of walkouts, rather taxing. It’s yet another instalment in the ‘films about the revolution’, though this one’s focused specifically on those who participated in the ‘Battle of the Camel’. During the uprising, locals from Nazlet El Semman found their main source of income – tourism – abruptly cut off during the revolution and as a result, took to Tahrir to express their anger.
Shalabi plays a human rights activist named Reem who, after a trip with her
co-worker/friend to Nazlet El Semman, is taken by Mahmoud (Samra), a horseman who went to Tahrir on the day of the ‘Battle of the Camel’ and got badly beaten up by the protesters. Reem who sees Mahmoud’s messed up life as an intriguing project and their potential relationship as a sign of a post revolutionary Egypt – where class differences aren’t so entrenched and where a guy and a girl from different socio-economic backgrounds can get together without facing any societal backlash – pursues getting to know him and in the process becomes acquainted his wife Fatna (El Sibai) and two kids.
The film requires a lot of perseverance to sit through and with very little pay off at the end. Its only selling point is essentially the three leads, all of whose performances can’t be faulted. The dialogue and story on the other hand are essentially a jumble of muddled metaphors and half formed ideas. The film tries to address socio-economic differences, stereotyping and the unequal relationship between the privileged and those of lesser means, but it all feels very vague and any messages or points the filmmakers try to make are lost in the epic runtime.
The film’s so long and slow it feels unfinished, like a first draft before any of the excess is taken out. It’s full of things that would sound good in a filmmaker’s head but are in actuality not in the least bit interesting to anyone who is not directly involved in the film or immersed in the process of making it. It was desperately in need of a brutal editor to make it zippier and more focused. As it is though, the film is quite disappointing.