Citizen, Detective, Thief

Dawoud Abdel-Sayed’s 2001 hit Egyptian musical about three men who trade mistresses, information, and destinies over two decades has only half a dozen numbers over 135 minutes, but each one is pivotal to the thematic development and the satirical treatment of class difference and corruption. Undoubtedly the strangest occurs after the citizen’s maid and mistress steals the manuscript of his first novel and turns it over to the thief (Egyptian pop star Shaaban Abdel-Rehim), who burns it because he finds it Islamically incorrect and then has his eye gouged out by the enraged novelist; nurses and fellow hospital patients provide Abdel-Rehim’s musical and dancing backup as he laments his two-dimensional sight. As ambitious in its way as Scorsese’s Casino and no less violent in its abusive details, this is social criticism with a vengeance. In Arabic with subtitles. (JR)

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