Movie review: No one laughs at Samir Abu El-Nile

Yasser Moheb, Sunday 12 May 2013

In 'Samir Abu El-Nile' actor Ahmad Mekky returns to his favourite genre: comedy, however the screenplay by Ayman Bahgat Qamar is a failure, as is the work of the actors and the director

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Ahmed Mekky in Samir Abu El-Nile (a still from the movie)

Here comes another comedy to entertain us during the hot summer season. The audience, however isn't laughing.

The all-around cinematic deficiency is highly apparent in Samir Abu El-Nile, a new comedy directed by Amr Arafa, starring Ahmad Mekki.

Renowned for box office hits and memorable personalities, such Haythem Dabbour in H-Dabbour (2008), Hazaloum in La Tarago' Wala Istislam (Neither Regression Nor Surrender - 2010) among others, the actor gained the fondness of his fans. However, in Samir Abu El-Nile, Mekky has just scored his second botched comedy after his last film, Ali Baba's Cinema (2011).

Sair Abu El-Nile, now in theatres, is a satire on the satellite channels and mocks some social ills. Onscreen, however, the impact is much less than one expects.

This is simply the story of Samir Abu El-Nile
  , a young, stingy middle-class man. He is cursed and rejected by those around him, until one day when his cousin offers him a fortune: LE550 million (almost $80 million). He decides to invest the money in media and launches a satellite channel: Sabha TV.

It is from this moment that film begins its mad satire of the media business.

Samir Abu El-Nile wraps two stories in one dish, unfortunately deprived of any taste.

With Mekky staging a self-parody, one realises within a quarter of an hour into the film that it is not funny, contrary to their advertisement.

Throughout the first part of the film, the audience follows the adventures that describe the avarice of the protagonist, Samir, presented in the most predictable manner possible.

What a déjà vu of movies that aspire to be comical, social, serious and critical; all at the same time.

The film takes off well, despite its boring start. The story eventually takes more dramatic turns, but the whole thing collapses half an hour in as the film goes into a series of cycles and clichés.

Misses the point

The screenplay written by Ayman Bahgat Qamar is perhaps the biggest failure of his career. Getting lost in rather shallow dramatic zigzags, the story loses credibility and impact. As such, the story is too preposterous and leans on empty prejudices and stereotypes, choosing the easy way out.

Frame-fetched and filled with horribly caricatured and implausible characters, one cannot even rely on the main character; neither his comic potentials nor a few gestures provide a few expected effects. In her part, Nicole Saba creates an everyday character through a truly transparent delivery.

The same neutrality is found in the performance of the rest of the cast: Hussein El-Emam in the role of a wealthy cousin, Mohamed Lotfi, who embodies the archetype of the protagonist's friend, Dina El Sherbiny in the role of an investigator and Menna Shalabi as a journalist.

Just like the protagonist, the whole plot is weak. Though leaving room for many moral lessons they become too direct and artificial. Mekky himself falls into the trap of self-parody.

In short: nothing in this film can be saved, not in the way it materialises, for its lack of surprise or originality, the work even uses the vocabulary of a television series or movie, not cinema.

The director Amr Arafa ensured that the film is lengthy despite the 'comedy's' feebleness, which never becomes funny.

Everyone can forgive flaws in a comedy as long as it hits the goal: to make people laugh.

With the exception of very few passages, however, Samir Abu El-Nile clearly misses the mark.

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