7.5/10
4,246
32 user 23 critic

The Yacoubian Building (2006)

Omaret yakobean (original title)
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)
...
Bothayna (as Hind Sabry)
...
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

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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 Vie En Rose
Music by Louiguy and Marguerite Monnot
Lyrics by Édith Piaf
Performed by Youssra
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User Reviews

 
They Make Melodramas in Egypt Too
13 October 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"The Yaboubian Building" reminded me of those over-heated Spanish soap operas that air nightly on Telemundo. The sweep and size of the film (not to mention its length) may fool people into thinking it's a more important picture than it actually is, when really it's not much more than one big soapy melodrama that manages to stay mostly entertaining over the course of its three hours.

There's a lot going on in this film, and you may find you have your work cut for you just following the basics of the plot. I suspect much more of the film would have made sense to me had I known more about Egyptian culture. As it is, there are a lot of terms and situations in the film that probably didn't have their full desired effect. Of course, it's tough as an American, and therefore one used to experiencing art that throws critical darts at my country's beliefs and institutions, to fully understand how controversial this film (and the book on which it is based) has been in Egypt. By all accounts, the frank candour about corrupt government, homosexuality and the prostitution of Egyptian citizens (of all types and at all levels of society) have been greeted with quite an uproar in this film's country of origin. It's a noble effort on the part of the film-makers, and I can understand them wanting to pack in as much punch as they can, but the film tries to do too much, and the plot feels like several different agendas unsuccessfully unified into a coherent whole.

Much of "The Yacoubian Building" is no less ham-fisted than your typical Hollywood film, not the least of which are the scenes that explain outright the film's central metaphor (the Yacoubian building itself as a representation of Egyptian society). But much of it works quite well too, especially the acting, which is pretty good across the board, the crisp pacing and the driving musical score.

A big bold movie that bites off more than it can chew but provides a solid few hours of entertainment nonetheless.

Grade: B+


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