Monday, April 28, 2014

I Watched An Emirati Movie: Sea Shadow

The blurb about the film:
Set in a small seaside neighbourhood in the United Arab Emirates, 'Sea Shadow' follows two teenagers Mansoor and Kaltham as they struggle with tradition and convention in their journey towards adulthood. Bound by family and deeply rooted values, the pair must find the courage to forge their own paths.

'Sea Shadow' held its World Premier at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival in October 2011 and was released in theatres throughout the Gulf Arab States in November 2011. It premiered in the United States at the Palm Springs International Film Festival in January 2012 and went on to be officially selected in over twenty international film festivals.

What I thought:

'Sea Shadow' is an intimate, up close and personal portrayal of everyday life in a small Emirati town by the sea. Teenagers Mansoor (played by Omar Al-Mulla) and Kaltham (played by Neven Madi) belong to two Emirati families that struggle with life on a daily basis. Mansoor's mum is bread winner of her family since his dad is confined to a wheelchair unable to work, and Kaltham's dad although physically capable has become emotionally paralysed after the death of his wife. Depressed and emotionally clogged he has turned sour, bitter and nonchalant towards his three children. With his eldest son living in Abu Dhabi, married to Jane, Kaltham's father is unaware of her beauty and the danger it brings with it for Kaltham and the family.

The movie sheds light on a segment of Emirati society that is rarely known to the world about the UAE. These are not affluent stereotypical jet-setting Emiratis with their flashy cars, palatial mansions and army of servants. These are struggling Emiratis with financial woes trying to keep up with modern life as best they can. The movie seems to suggest that because life in that seaside town is more genuine, not yet fully tainted by modernity, then ultimately emotions and reactions will be coarse, rough even basic. At least that is how I felt towards certain scenes in the film.

Talking of scenes, my best by far were those of Mansoor and his best friend Sultan (played by Arbar Al-Hamad). They are excellent actors and those two, in my opinion, are the ones who hold the movie together. There are briefly dull scenes in the film, but Mansoor and Sultan are the breeze that this vessel needs to continue its journey. 

I enjoyed the film and thought it a beautiful story about the innocence of young love in a country that strives to re-conciliate between its proud traditions and values and its global modern image. Yes, it was slow in places but the beautiful scenes in the film more than make up for the monotony.

Director: Nawaf Al-Janahi
Writer: Mohammed Hasan Ahmed
Stars: Omar Al-Mulla, Neven Madi, Abrar Al-Hamad, Aisha Abdul Rahman and Bilal Abdullah
Duration: 98 mins

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