|Index||3 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A middle-aged divorced father discovers that he needs to undergo an
emergency operation for a twisted testicle, which he cannot afford.
Having gambled away everything he earned as a successful care salesman
in Amman, Yousef (Ali Suliman) lives alone in poverty, working as a
taxi driver, stealing electricity from a neighbor to brew coffee and
enduring his sleazy boss's degradations and double-dealings with ironic
Much is in motion on the eve of Yousef's surgery. A Last Supper with Islamic background, where Friday has multiple meanings as holy day, protest day, strike day.
First, his teen-age son (Fadi Arida) comes to stay with him, hiding out from Yousef's ex-wife (Yasmine Al Masri), now married to a powerful, invisible husband. Yousef discovers that his son is nearly illiterate, a habitual truant from his expensive private school.
On television and radio, we hear strange ideas about romance and love, where women have the upper hand, while Yousef has coffee on the veranda, playing solitaire backgammon, outside his pitifully empty bedroom.
The first Jordanian film screened at Berlinale, Al Juma Al Akheira first took form in Paris, where director-screenwriter Yahya Alabdallah studied at the International Film and Television School EICAR.
Working on a 100,000 euro budget, Alabdallah has turned in a well-written, well-acted, beautifully photographed film that casts a perceptive gaze on a society in crisis, with a focus on the drama and comedy of everyday life that will be recognizable to audiences worldwide.
Mirror post: http://blog.williamaveryhudson.com/?p=954
The Last Friday is a well-thought-out piece of filmmaking that fails to take that crucial friendly step towards its audience. Its bleak take on individual isolation in a cold modern society won post-production financing at San Sebastian this year, followed by the Special Jury Award and two other prizes at the Dubai Film Festival. Beyond the Arab world, however, the downbeat subject will make it a hard sell with audiences, though this first feature should earn director Yahya Al Abdallah the attention of fest programmers. A little disappointingly, there's little that is specifically Jordanian in this sober tale set in Amman, whose story could be told in any modern metropolis. Yousef (played by Ali Suliman, a veteran familiar from the films of Elia Suleiman as well as Body of Lies) has only a few days to find money for a crucial surgical operation. A compulsive gambler, he lost his home, his wife (the beautiful Yasmine Al Masri of Caramel) and all his savings years ago at the poker table. Even his job as a car showroom salesman has been downgraded to that of a company driver. Though the back story is implicit rather than spelled out, it explains and nuances Yousef's estrangement from society and his family. The urgency of the moment forces him out of his solitude and on a hurried search for money. Paralleling his wasted life is that of his unpromising teenage son Emad (Fadi Arida), who cuts school, steals from Dad's wallet and generally screws up. Both Suliman's morose, uncompromising father and young Arida's brash but insecure son are painfully on target, generating a convincingly destructive father-son chemistry. Suliman's strong, nearly wordless characterization of Yousef as a loser who struggles with misplaced pride and self-sacrifice won him best actor kudos at Dubai. It's night a lot in this dark drama, finely captured on digital blown up to 35mm by D.P. Rachel Aoun. The long-held shots of the sober, fixed-frame camera-work tend to stretch on and on. Underscoring the action is a mellow, award-winning soundtrack by Le Trio Joubran. Venue: Dubai Film Festival (Muhr Arab Feature competition) Cast: Ali Suliman, Yasmine Al Masri Production companies: The Royal Film Commission Jordan in association with ME Films, Dubai Film Market (Enjaaz) Director: Yahya Al Abdallah Screenwriters: Yahya Al Abdallah Producers: Rula Nasser, Majd Hijjawi, Yahya Al Abdallah Executive producers: George David, Mohammad Al Bakri Director of photography: Rachel Aoun Production designer: Samir Zaidan Music: Le Trio Jubran Editor: Mohammad Suleiman Sales Agent: The Royal Film Commission Jordan No rating, 88 minutes
This winner of the Special Jury Prize, Best Actor for Ali Suliman and
Best Composer for Trio Jubran in the Muhr Arab feature competition at
the Dubai International Film Festival 2011, is about life as it is in
less than a week.
Youssef (Ali Suliman), a forty year old divorced father, was once a successful car salesman and now a taxi driver who's living alone with no wife, away from his 14 year old son, and totally broke.
He is at the mercy of a young boss who shows little to no compassion to the conditions of his staff. Youssef needs to undergo an operation within the next four days and has to finance it before it gets more complicated. This leads him to reconnect with old chapters of his life and discover along the way important matters he's been neglecting. One of his key concerns is his son Imad, torn between parents and doing very poorly at school. Youssef has to maintain the aura of being the father figure, which he is not always able to afford. While the mother, Dalal (Yasmin Al Masri), has moved on with a new marriage after Youssef has lost his fortune in a poker game, Imad is growing up demanding more attention.
During these four days, Youssef is trying hard to finalize crucial foundations regarding the future of his son and attempting to make-up for old mistakes. Through him, we are introduced to the financial crisis Jordan is facing and how it will affect his medical operation. We get a close glimpse at a society whose rich citizens want to buy a fancy car, while the sales agent can barely buy a wheel for a bike belonging to his son.
The film develops with very little dialogue with the sole purpose of transferring important information. Dialogue serves as complimentary to an expressive and solid cinema language. Let the camera speaks for its self is the motto of this film.
And needless to say the wonderful performance of Ali Suleiman ("Paradise Now") offers up a complex portrayal of the father, the hard worker but also a man who is in need of a female companion. The rest of the characters, with their little appearance, are memorable like Nadera Omran, and of course Yasmin El Masri.
The film does remind me of "Beautiful" starring Javier Bardem. Both characters are rushing for closure before their illnesses take over unfinished businesses, driven by their fatherly instincts of providing a proper future for their children.
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