The Father and The Foreigner: Amr Waked’s Italian Endeavour
Diego (Gassman) is a simple
public officer at a busy Rome office, who meets a Syrian man, Walid (Waked), at
the rehabilitation centre where they both take their handicapped sons for treatment.
Walid is devastated when he realizes that his son Youssef (who is younger and
more severely handicapped than Diego’s son Giacomino) is suffering and not improving.
Both fathers immediately strike up a friendship despite their different
cultural and social backgrounds.
The friendship between the
two men grows deeper while Diego’s marriage begins to fall apart. His wife Lisa
(Rappoport) used to be a great photographer with a promising career ahead of
her, but gave it all up after Giacomino’s birth. Their relationship at the
beginning of the film is put under a lot of pressure, but strengthens as the
Diego decides it’s time to stop
neglecting his son and so he takes off more time from work to spend it with
Giacomino and Walid. The film then takes the path of a thriller, as it’s
revealed that the secret police are looking to arrest Walid, and they
investigate his disappearance by going after Diego, who begins to question if
he should trust his new friend.
The Father and The
Foreigner’s plot may work better as a novel than as a film. There are too many
plot details that end up confusing the audience rather than captivating them.
As a motion picture, it lacks intensity and there are many plot holes and
missing details that are only revealed at the very end of the film. Why exactly
was Walid wanted by the secret police? What was his story? All these questions
Alessandro Gassman (most
commonly known as the main villain in Transporter 2) really shines in The Father and the Foreigner, giving a
powerful performance that overshadows that of Waked’s. While both of them are
respected talents, Gassman by far did a better job than Waked: Egyptian
audiences won’t be disappointed, but definitely will not be amazed by his
Kseniya Rappoport pleasantly
maintains the balance between the loving mother and responsible wife, while
Nadine Labaki proved her versatility as an actress/director, despite the fact
that she only appears for not more than a total of ten minutes in the whole
The Father and the Foreigner is filmed in Italian,
with a little Arabic thrown here and there. So the fact that you need subtitles
to follow the film may be a little distracting.
This is a low-budget film
that generally relies on its premise and acting materials. Those who enjoy
independent films will definitely enjoy this, while others might not make through its