Yomeddine: Egyptian Director Amateurish Debut (Cannes)

Egyptian director A.B. Shawky’s feature directing debut, Yomeddine, didn’t win any prize at the 2018 Cannes Film Fest.

Thematically, the film was interesting–sort of “The Elephant Man” in a different geographical and political context.

But artistically, it left a lot to be desired.  It was, in my humble view, one of the weakest entries in the main competition of the festival’s 71st edition.  Here is a beginner’s film that should have been placed at the second series, Un Certain Regard.

The film is no doubt bold, but it has so little to say, and then says it in such amateurish terms.

For the lead role, helmer Shawky made a crucial choice: He cast Rady Gamal, a nonprofessional actor, himself badly disfigured by a case of leprosy (though it’s unclear exactly when).

The film’s greatest merit is to place center-stage a character that would never be the protagonist of a Hollywood movie.  The viewers are required to look and feel empathy for a character (and actor), who are physiologically and mentally challenged, albeit due to circumstances beyond his control.

Modest to a fault, the film lacks narrative pull and suffer from a number of crucial technical shortcomings.

At one point, when his character is attacked by people who view him as a contagious monster, he cries out, “I am a human being!”