Film review: Fact meets fiction in ambitious drama ‘Yomeddine’

A still from ‘Yomeddine.’ (Image supplied)
Updated 27 September 2018

Film review: Fact meets fiction in ambitious drama ‘Yomeddine’

  • Yomeddine is a touching road-trip drama
  • It steers clear of becoming a celebration of disfigurement and poverty

EL GOUNA: It takes phenomenal guts for a first-time director to tackle a subject such as leprosy, with an actual victim of the disease in the lead role.
A. B. Shawky’s “Yomeddine,” which screened at the El Gouna Film Festival this week, is a touching road-trip drama starring Rady Gamal, a real-life leprosy survivor. The director met Gamal at a leper colony north of Cairo when he made a short documentary, “The Colony,” in 2009. He could not have found a better actor. Gamal is not ashamed of his disease or disability and uses his wrinkled face with marvelous ease to express his joys and pains.
Gamal stars as Beshay and when first we see him, his gnarled hands rummaging through a garbage bin, we are shocked. When his mentally unstable wife Ireny (Shoq Emara) dies, Gamal decides to find his estranged family. He gets into his donkey cart and, along with young friend Obama (Ahmed Abdelhafiz), embarks on the journey of a lifetime. Since ancient times, lepers have been treated as outcasts (as we saw in most brutal form in William Wyler’s 1959 classic “Ben-Hur”), and not much has changed for Beshay in the present day. He is looked down upon and kept at arm’s length by people unduly fearful of contracting the disease. The road from Cairo, where Beshay begins his journey, to Luxor, where the family that abandoned him lives, is filled with adventures, some happy, some not.
Although the movie has several high points, which probably helped it earn its competition slot at the Cannes Film Festival in May, the plot is weak in places, becoming boringly predictable, and some scenes simply seem unnecessary. For instance, was there really a need for flashbacks and dream sequences, which appear to stick out like a sore thumb?
The climax, meanwhile, seems forced as Shawky seems to have taken the easy way out. If the idea was to draw the viewer into an emotional trap, it does not quite work. However, “Yomeddine” does steer clear of becoming a celebration of disfigurement and poverty.

The Six: Arab and Muslim models in New York

Updated 16 February 2019

The Six: Arab and Muslim models in New York

DUBAI: Arab and Muslim models took the runways by storm at New York Fashion Week, which closed on Sunday in the Big Apple.

Bella Hadid

The Palestinian-American model was a smash during the Michael Kors show, which paid tribute to 1970s fashion, rocking a sparkling black blazer with feathers on the sleeves.

Gigi Hadid

The hectic supermodel lifestyle didn’t get in the way of Bella’s sister, who was seen on the streets in her retro runway hairdo after walking the Michael Kors show.

Halima Aden

This Muslim model turned heads when she closed the Christian Cowan show with an oversized black and neon pantsuit and a chain-link rhinestone hijab.

Noor Tagouri

This Libyan-American journalist took her confidence to the next level when she decided to put down her pen and walk the runway for US brand Rebecca Minkoff.

Nora Attal

The British-Moroccan model kicked off the week in elegant leatherwork by French brand Longchamp and walked the runway for Brandon Maxwell.

Shanina Shaik

The Australian model, who was raised a Muslim and whose father is half-Saudi, modelled for Vietnamese designer Nguyen Cong Tri.