Magazine article Screen International

'Cactus Flower': Dubai Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Cactus Flower': Dubai Review

Article excerpt

Two Egyptian women find themselves thrown out onto the busy streets of Cairo.

Cactus Flower

Dir/scr: Hala Elkoussy. Egt-UAE-Nor-Qtr. 2017. 104mins

As two very different Egyptian women find themselves thrown out of their apartment block onto the busy streets of Cairo, writer-director Hala Elkoussy’s handsomely mounted feature debut drama uses their plight to delve into both a reflection on the city and modern-day Egypt and also ruminate on the nature of family and friendship.

Director Hala Elkoussy, whose video art has been exhibited in Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum, has crafted a gently melancholic film that essentially is about friendship.

Balancing magical realism with wistful drama, this tender film is given heart and soul thanks to the lead performances by Salma Samy and Menha Batraoui whose supportive friendship leads them on thoughtful journey. The poetic sentimentality might make it a tough sell for certain audiences, but locally it could easily strike a chord, especially for older viewers.

The film opens with an artistic and languid flashback to the childhood of Aida (Salma Samy) as she poses for a photograph for her mother, who them promptly drives away. As a 33 year-old adult she is an actress (or, as she describes herself, “an aspiring actress for 10 years”) who goes through a series of auditions, and struggles to make money to pay her rent. …

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