Typically, we only review English language features. But, for an Egyptian film that has garnered international acclaim, we are more than willing to make an exception. This is why we have decided to review Yomeddine.
You might not remember an exact scene or plot of a movie you saw when you were a child, but if it really got to you, you will definitely remember how it made you feel. With Yomeddine, you will definitely remember the feeling.
Yomeddine follows cured leper Beshay (Rady Gamal), who is leaving the leper colony on a donkey kart to go across the country, looking for his family. A Nubian orphan, nicknamed Obama (Ahmed Abdelhafiz), and a donkey named Harb are Beshay’s only companions on his journey of self-discovery. The three of them face theft, hunger, thirst, perils, and of course, negative treatment due to the marks that Beshay’s leprosy has left on this face.
If you think this is a pity story, you couldn’t be more wrong.
Writer and director Abu Bakr Shawky was able to dodge the pitfall of a sob story, by not framing the character of Beshay as the helpless victim but, instead an active agent who can change the course of the plot.
Another plus for the plot is its simplicity and simultaneous complexity; the course of the plot is simple, but the personal details that unravel are intricate, and reveal loads about the characters’ personal traits. For example, Beshay fixing his hair became a known character trait as something that he does before going into a tough situation, or meeting a person with whom he may have a conflict. Later in the film this character trait, among others, had the audience feeling they know Beshay well enough to know what is coming.
Visually, the film is stunningly shot; vivid colours, multiple emotion evoking close ups, outstandingly memorable long shots, and much more. This is a very commendable achievement, especially considering the fact that the film is entirely shot on open Egyptian roads and in the middle of the Egyptian desert. Despite the foreseen hardships of such shooting locations, the feature’s visuals will leave you mesmerised.
There was the issue of there being some shaky shots, which seems simple enough to avoid if the filmmaker had used a tripod; however, if the shaky shots were captured with the intention of adding a layer of technical authenticity, that mirrored the authenticity of the film’s characters, then these shots were quite successful at doing just that. That being said, at times the shaky scenes got quite annoying.
As for the acting, the fact that Rady Gamal is not an actual actor, yet was able to deliver such a genuine performance, is absolutely astounding. Gamal was able to portray emotions excellently. He also possessed a light sense of humour that kept his character out of the victim zone. Ahmed Abdelhafiz also proved to be extremely talented, with his subtle expressions and notable characterisation.
Yomeddine will rip your heart right out of your chest; you will smile, you will cry, and it will definitely leave its mark on you.