Backed by a solid script, Mamno’ El Eqterab Aw El Tasweeri is a strong character driven drama asks some big questions
Film review: The fine ensemble drama Mamno’ El Eqterab Aw El Tasweer raises some pertinent topics
Lots of charm and subtle social commentary is on offer in Mamno’ El Eqterab Aw El Tasweer (Don’t Approach or Take Photos).
The hustle and bustle of a slightly decrepit police station, which used to be an old stately villa, is thrown into chaos when the indomitable daughter of the long deceased property owner, Thurayah (Mirfat Amin), shows up to claim what is rightfully hers.
Suspicious of her motives, police chief Hamada (Boumi Fouad) offers Thurayah and her family temporary residence at the station, confident the rich family’s interaction with Egypt’s lower-class citizens will scare them off.
Being an ensemble cast, there are plenty of intertwining stories thrown in the mix. The chief theme among them is the family’s wish to escape the autocratic clutches of Thurayah.
The eldest son Farouq (Tariq Al Ibyari), who along with his pregnant wife Yasmin (Nour Qadri) makes a home out of a cell and revels in the criminal atmosphere.
His younger brother and shy artist Bassam (Mohammed Mahran) falls in love for the first time with an unsuitable woman, while sister Firyal (Yousra Al Wazi) can’t wait to get married and escape her mother’s grasp, even if that means marrying inside the police station.
Thurayah’s husband Abdul Latif uses his standing in society to help criminals get their due process.
While the lighthearted nature of this film is a departure for writer-director Romany Saad, whose previous film credits include 2015’s darkly atmospheric Tuk Tuk and the pensive 2011 drama Cold January, this latest feature continues Saad’s knack for useful social commentary.
With Mamno’ El Eqterab Aw El Tasweer, Saad uses the neat trick of juxtaposing Thurayah’s disciplinarian approach with the treatment of criminals by the police. What we get in the end is more frustration and confrontation. The film’s biggest setback is perhaps that Saad has given himself too many balls to juggle. There are at least five different subplots coursing throughout Mamno’ El Eqterab Aw El Tasweer, and some of them are just left unresolved, which leaves the viewer wondering on a number of fronts.
That said, the cast puts in a solid performance. Veteran actress Amin gives the towering Thurayah an equal sense of gravitas and fun, while Al Ibyari’s transformation from quiet doctor to confident husband is entertaining to watch.
The highlight, however, is Fouad. His portrayal of Hamada, a luckless chief whose dedication is ignored by superiors, is beautifully understated
and affecting. It all adds up to Mamno’ El Eqterab Aw El Tasweer being a mostly fine character-driven drama full of humour and insight.
Mamno’ El Eqterab Aw El Tasweer is showing in theatres now.