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Thursday, 22 April 2021

Egyptian star-studded film 'Waafet Reggala': You're never old enough to stay young

Currently in Egypt's cinemas, Waafet Regala stars Maged El-Kedwany, Sayed Ragab, Bayoumi Fouad, and Sherief El-Desouky, with a guest appearance from Sawsan Badr

Yasser Moheb, Thursday 11 Feb 2021
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In his third feature film, Waafet Reggala (A Stand Worthy of Men), screenwriter Haitham Dabbour revisits his favorite dramatic themes: the world of the elderly faced with generational antagonism.

Directed by Ahmed El-Gendy and starring Maged El-Kedwany, Sayed Ragab, Bayoumi Fouad, and Sherief El-Desouky, the comedy film was released across Egypt’s cinemas in mid-January.

Waafet Reggala aims to find answers to questions such as: What should we do when we realise that we have grown old and have not enjoyed our youth enough? How will we react once we are away from the stifling family life? Can we create our own joy in the face of all the problems that life keeps throwing at us?

The plot focuses on four old friends: a businessman and womaniser Shohdy — played by El-Kedwany; an old sailor Azayzi — played by Fouad; a newly-retired civil servant Hussein — played by El-Desouky — who lives with his children and grandchildren; and Adel — played by Ragab — who has just lost his wife, his only love and companion in life.

To support Adel in his sadness, three friends decide to accompany him on a short trip to a seaside resort owned by Shohdy. There, they spend a few days in the presence of Mahy — played by Amina Khalil — Shohdy’s assistant, and his secretary, Mostafa — played by Mohamed Sallam. Through funny situations, the characters are confronted with many life truths.

Dabbour has already delved into the world of the elderly in his film Photocopy, which was released three years ago. Starring Mahmoud Hemeida and Sherine Reda, Photocopy highlighted the older community versus the dynamic youth and their use of technological advancements. In Waafet Reggala, Dabbour revisits the same dramatic space, but in a much lighter manner, filling it with caricaturised elements.

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In search of emotions

The tone is set from the opening scenes. We are introduced to the protagonists as they are unmasked through situations that are not lacking humour. The film begins as an action comedy, fairly light and based on the strength of the group. Unfortunately, the jokes and gags can hardly be laughed at.

Though the plot does not surprise with its originality, it pleases us with an accepted tale. Combining humour, love, rivalry, comical parenting situations, and generational antagonism, it offers a certain dynamic which places human relationships at the heart of the story, ceaselessly rocking between light and dramatic comedy.

The director, Ahmed El-Gendy, seems quite at ease in the face of a frame without great dramatic jolts. He deploys eloquent visual processes, thus, presenting a beautiful image, nourished by the seaside, where the majority of the movie is filmed.

A flawless cast

All the actors put up a good performance. Regardless of how weak the plot is, each character receives his own memorable small scene, even if at times the director introduces them too forcefully. All the characters play an equally important role, as they are intertwined by the whole narrative.

El-Kedwany proved his power, presenting an old man who is often drunk and lewd. Khalil, Fouad, Ragab, El-Desouky, and even Sallam are all irreproachable as the characters they portray.

It is important to shed light on the duo Sayed Ragab and Sawsan Badr. The latter is the guest of honour in the film, playing the character of Adel’s sick wife. We have seen the same couple in love in the television series Abu Al-Aroussa (The Father of the Bride), which features the same actors. In Waafet Reggala, the viewer is confused when looking at the already known scenes.

With Waafet Reggala, we might expect a high-end comedy. Unfortunately, by the end of the film, and a predictable happy ending, we are left surprised with a blunt smile on our faces.

In short, with a simple script and a fairly adequate cast, Waafet Reggala is a light social comedy. A typical “popcorn movie” with lots of comedy, a touch of melody. The whole thing can be watched without much excitement.

As such, this film mainly targets fans of the cast and summer-themed comedies.

*This article was originally published in Al Ahram Hebdo, in French, 3 February 2021 edition. Additional edit: Ahram Online.

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