Currently in Egypt' cinemas, the new film coming from Tarek El-Erian (also credited as Tarek El'eryan), a Cairo-based Palestinian-American director and producer, has been on the tongues of many viewers and critics alike for a few weeks now.
Released on 17 July, Welad Rizk (The Sons of Rizk) is an action thriller that looks into a series of multi-faceted scams, presented in a way that is agreeable to the viewer. This technique has become the director's hallmark, even if instead of taking us into the lavish apartments that we saw in his previous movies, the characters come straight from the Egypt's slums.
The action revolves around four brothers coming from a modest family, Rizk, and living in a popular neighbourhood. Following the passing of the parents, the eldest son, Reda (Ahmed Ezz), becomes responsible for his three siblings: Rabie (Amr Youssef), Ragab (Ahmad Daoud), and the youngest, Ramadan (Karim Qassem). In order to provide for the family, Reda finds refuge in malevolence.
As head of the family gang, the adolescent Reda imposes a rule of obedience over his brothers so he can steer their little crimes and decide on their destinies. Following one of their robberies, during which Ramadan loses his eye, Reda decides to stop the crime activities of the gang. This time however, his brothers refuse to obey, paying a high price for their choice. The heated action develops involving one more crucial character, a kidnapper Saqr, played by Sayed Ragab.
The excitement, the chase, the aggression, the victims are all topped with a little bit of humour and ridicule. The viewer will find all the elements he used to see in El-Erian's older action movies. However, on the script level, we also keep trying, throughout the whole film, to find something new and original. A lack of novelty is expressed in many ways, including the fact that the film reduced the female cast to the absolute minimum and as stereotypes.
The soap-bubble thriller
Welad Rizk is the second work coming from Salah Al Juhainy, a scriptwriter previously known for writing the comedy February 30th, directed by Moataz Tuni. This time he comes with a thriller. While remaining faithful to all the ingredients that constitute a proper meal of suspense, the script falls flat.
In the film where there is no proper backdrop, no dramatic knots and continuity, the mischievous adventures of the characters start losing their logic. Cutting off half an hour from this thriller would have been a luxury.
As a director, El-Erian doesn't gain anything from Welad Rizk, since his film becomes a compilation of his previous techniques.
But it is no less important to emphasise a few values characterising the vibrant filmmaking, where the use of flashback accentuates the artistic side, even if those long flashbacks become the dominant factor of the whole scanario.
Despite the fact that Welad Rizk is less appealing than previous works coming from the team, the cinematic aesthetics are well taken care of, and the characters are led in a simple and efficient way. The film keeps its promise to excite and distract from daily life, and if only a viewer decides to let go, they will easily manage to embark on a new adventure, with an occasional smile on the face.
Director of cinematography, Mazen Al Motagawel, delivers a well crafted work, void of too many artificial elements. The film’s editing by Ahmed Hamdy is just adequate for this kind of film, though appears too panting and in some scenes even dislocated.
Unfortunately, the music by Hesham Nazih – which tries hard to excel at offering a western element, and oddly infuses itself within the film's backdrop and the Egyptian slum slang of the characters -- is the least successful experience coming from the well-known soundtrack composers.
The film's song titled Tasaheel (Coming to Happiness), is sung by the renowned Asala – who is also the wife of El-Erian, the director and one of the co-producers of the film – together with the independent band Basata. Serving as an explanatory commentator of the events, the song is interesting, though it is also trapped in the same vicious off-style loop.
We cannot say that Welad Rizk failed in its mission to distract. However, created for commercial and as such profit-oriented purposes, the formula seems worn.
Devoid of soul, this soap-bubble thriller proves more redundant than vibrant.
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