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The Yacoubian Building (2006)
"Omaret yakobean" (original title)

 -  Drama  -  21 June 2006 (Egypt)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 2,937 users  
Reviews: 31 user | 21 critic

Meditations on corruption, fundamentalism, prostitution, homosexuality, and drugs in central Cairo.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Adel Imam ...
Zaki El Dessouki
Nour El-Sherif ...
Youssra ...
Christine
Essad Youniss ...
Dawlat El Dessouky (as Issad Younis)
Ahmed Bedir ...
Malaak (as Ahmed Bedeir)
Hend Sabri ...
Bothayna (as Hind Sabry)
Khaled El Sawy ...
Hatem Rachid
Khaled Saleh ...
Kamal El Fouly
Ahmed Rateb ...
Fanous
Somaya El Khashab ...
Soad
...
Abd Raboh
Mohamed Emam ...
Taha El Shazly (as Mohamed Imam)
Youseff Daoud ...
Fekry Abdel Shaheed
Talaat Zakaria ...
Bar Owner
Yehia El-Fakharany ...
Narrator
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Storyline

Cairo: a 70-year-old building of once-luxury flats with tenements on the roof. Zika, an aging libertine, feuds with his sister. Pius Haj Azzam takes a second wife, in secret, to satisfy sexual drive within religious bounds. Bothayna, poor and beautiful, supports her family, wanting to do so with dignity intact. Her former fiancé, Taha, the janitor's son, humiliated by the police, turns to fundamentalism. Hatem, a gay editor, seduces and corrupts a young man from the sticks. Two brothers, Copts, one a tailor and one Zika's factotum, connive for property. Allah is on most everyone's lips, and corruption is in their hearts. European values, both refined and worldly, provide a subtext. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Official Sites:

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Release Date:

21 June 2006 (Egypt)  »

Also Known As:

The Yacoubian Building  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

EGP 18,000,000 (estimated)
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Did You Know?

Goofs

When Hatem is drinking while remembering his youth near the end of the film, he finishes his drink. Seconds later, he finishes it again. See more »

Soundtracks

LA Foule
Written by 'Michel Rivgauche'
Performed by 'Édith Piaf'
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User Reviews

 
With a Better Adaptation, Yacoubian Could Have Been a Masterpiece
26 June 2006 | by (Egypt) – See all my reviews

January 2002. Alaa el Aswani's first novel, Omaret Yacoubian, is published. Within a few months, it has taken the Egyptian book world by Storm. And it's easy to know why. The book is almost exclusively about the 3 taboos in the Arab literature; Politics, Sex (Hetero and Homo), and Religion.

Fast forward to June 2006. Unless you've been living on another planet for the past 2 years or so, you must've heard of the movie adaptation of the book. Seriously, it was nearly impossible to escape the following headlines "Yacoubian is the biggest Egyptian film of all-time", "De Niro says the film is a masterpiece", "Yacoubian gets huge raves at Cannes", etc... In my opinion, that was one of the film's biggest problems; the filmmakers set the bar too high for themselves. So, I walked in expecting to see a breakthrough in film-making. What I got was a great, although flawed, film. So, I was somewhat disappointed.

I didn't like Wahid Hamed's adaptation of the book. The spirit of the novel is there, and the film is much more humorous, but unfortunately, that was it. Maybe because Hamed had to fit the script, so that the bigger stars get the bigger parts, all the secondary characters (Soaad, Dawlat, Malaak, etc...) ended up with almost no screen time. Therefore, these characters came off as 2 dimensional and their actions didn't make a lot of sense. For example, in the book, Soaad is almost a beggar. She constantly asks her friends and relatives for money. In the film, she's a middle class secretary. That's why I never understood why she would agree to be separated from her own son, and marry an older man just for some cash. Another example would be how someone came out of nowhere to kill off one of the main characters.

Director Marawan Hamed did a great job. Yacoubian is his first full-length feature, but he helmed it like a veteran. His camera moved smoothly, his cuts were all in the right places, and he shined in the large-scale (protest, training, and shootout) scenes. I'm really looking forward to his next picture.

Adel Emam (Zaki el Dessouky) was amazing. His turn (his best in ages) was funny yet heartfelt. Khaled Saleh (Kamal el Fouli) and Khaled el Sawy (Hatem Rashid) were also great. In fact, I think Mohamed Emam (Taha el Shazly) was the only cast member who gave a so-so performance. Anyway, he's still a newbie (this is his first film), so he'll probably give better performances in the future.

Yacoubian is one of the most expensive Egyptian films of all-time, and fortunately, the money is on the screen. The costumes, make-up and sets are all top-notch. Khaled Hammad's score was good, but I felt it was overly dramatic in some places (a full Orchsetra playing while 2 people are merely talking?)

So, I'd definitely recommend watching The Yacoubian Building. It's the best Egyptian film in quite some time, and with a better adaptation, it could have been a masterpiece.


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