This excellent first feature from Youssef Chahine's production company is set during the Gulf War and analyses the descent into fundamentalist behaviour of a young Cairo truant. His lone mother, a cleaner, tries hard to keep the boy on the right path, but struggles to afford the extra fees demanded by his teacher, and hopes he won't realise their friendly neighbour is a prostitute. For his part, he tries to keep his mum in the dark about his new friend's identity (he's a street vendor) and the tuition he's receiving at a fundamentalist mosque. Despite an aura of tragic inevitability, this picture of how victims can be produced by poverty, irreconcilable conflicts between traditionalism and modernity, and unresolved psycho-sexual passions brewed in families with absent male figures, displays fine observation, expressive location work and gently nurtured performances.
Cast and crew
Mahmoud Hemida Sawsan Badr Ahmed Azmi Manal Afifi Ahmed Fouad Selim Seif Abdel Rahman Salwa Mohamed Ali