Yomeddine, written and directed by Abu Bakr Shawky, is a gripping tale of humanity that is the type of film that is exactly what we need right now. The movie follows a middle-aged leper who teams up with a young orphan to leave the leper colony for the first time ever in search of the last remaining members of their family.
Admittedly, on the surface, Yomeddine is little more than a run-of-the-mill road movie. However, it is one that is told in a way that is so inspiring and touching that you can’t help but love it. The arc of the film, the two characters trying to discover their place in the world, is a universal one told through extraordinary circumstances, as we all go through a period in our lives where we feel like we don’t fit in, albeit not in the same way as we see on-screen.
Leper Beshay and his apprentice Obama are truly a lovable dynamic duo, their time on screen together being the main reason that the movie is worth watching. It is hard not to feel bad for them because of the situation in which they find themselves, but the friendship that forms between them over the course of the film is very interesting and goes a long way in building this sympathy even further.
Rady Gamal, who actually suffers from leprosy in real life, portrays Beshay in a way that is extremely charismatic and compelling. It isn’t often that actors with disabilities or deformities are given the chance to be in a movie, much less in a starring role, so if nothing else, this film should be praised for giving a wonderful talent a chance to shine. Child actor Ahmed Abdelhafiz plays Beshay’s sidekick, and he is also relatively impressive. His delivery stands out as very realistic and effective.
Due to a combination of the touching story, excellent characterization, and phenomenal performances, the movie ends up being one of the most heartwarming you will see all year. Yes, there are times at which the film does begin to veer off into sappiness, but these are few and far between, with a focus instead on the humanity that unites the viewers with the characters.
For the most part, the movie moves along at a very brisk pace. The first twenty or so minutes provide the set-up and exposition that is necessary to draw us into the story and the world, and after that, we are thrown into Beshay and Obama’s journey. Although the film isn’t entirely comedic in nature, it is a feel-good movie and there are a few laughs to be had, the light tone giving the movie a bouncy feeling that makes it easy to watch.
On a technical level, the film is extremely impressive. It’s a shame that this movie didn’t get more attention after its debut at Cannes in 2018, as its cinematography and score are just as beautiful if not more so than some of the films that were nominated in last year’s awards season. Omar Fadel’s score stands out particularly, being used to build both the tone and the emotion of the movie.
Yomeddine may not have the most complex or intricate storyline, but it is quite enjoyable and effective nonetheless. An impressive debut by Abu Bakr Shawky, this would be a great watch for those American audiences who are more apprehensive towards foreign films.
Yomeddine is now playing in select theaters.