Clash

In 2013, in Cairo, a tragic fate brings together several detainees from different political and social backgrounds inside a police truck, during the turmoil that followed the ousting of president Morsi.

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  • ★★★★ review by Martin Samy on Letterboxd

    There has been much anticipation and controversy preceding the theatrical release in Egypt with several rumors that it will get censored or not released at all and a reporter on National TV called the director a "traitor" and an "anarchist who only focuses on the bad aspects of Egyptian society to capitalize on them." But although it's the most political film to be released in Egypt after the revolution ,in a market dominated mostly by comedies and Hollywood blockbusters, it comes off as mostly apolitical.

    Clash is the second feature film for writer/director Mohamed Diab taking place in early July 2013 after president Mohamed Morsi was overthrown by the army and many people took off to the streets either to celebrate or protest. Starting in an empty police car of about eight meters square which soon gets filled with different people arrested in the protests ranging from an American/Egyptian reporter to revolutionaries and Muslim Brotherhood supporters to a group of young men who had nothing to do with it all except that they happened to be walking by.

    Tensions arise and we start to see the sheep mentality of both the Muslim Brotherhood members who only talk to each other and refuse to stand next to the others and that of the policemen who refuse to give the arrested water as they were not "ordered" to.

    But the movie doesn't focus on their political affiliations and portrays them as only humans. We see the revolutionary nurse helping a wounded M.B member. They sing, they share their memories during the Arab Spring revolution. The short running time may not allow to dig deeper into the characters but I think it focuses more on living the experience by confining our POV inside the car during the whole movie making us feel as hopeless and suffocated as those trapped who aren't even allowed to pee and instead are shown how to do it in a bottle.

    The dialogue sometimes seems a little childish and some things felt like they were thrown in just to increase the running time as the argument between Mans and his friend who found out that Mans is sending romantic messages to the his sister.

    The clash scenes between the police and the protestors were masterful and showing them only through the car windows makes them seem even more colossal giving a real feeling of the chaos. The ending was cinematically beautiful with the green lasers all over the place. Although the ending may seem a little unsatisfying to some (including me at first), I think it's the perfect reflection of the current thinking in Egypt.

    After The Revolution in 2011 during the Arab Spring, everyone, especially the youth, started thinking of his own utopia and were looking forward to a "New Egypt", only to watch their dreams evaporate as they saw the same mistakes being repeated again, their political leaders betraying them, giving them only false promises and sweet talk. As I am writing this now, the economy is at its lowest with the rich/poor gap widening gradually, the budget for health and education dwindling, the political arena is filled with the same faces or new faces with the same mindset of the old regime. Censorship touches everything and there have even been talks to censor the Social media. They can't be blamed for losing hope ,abandoning their dreams and not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. For them, there is only darkness-nothing else.

  • ★★★★ review by Eli Hayes on Letterboxd

    Never again will I pity myself for my parents not letting me pee during long road trips when I was younger. In all seriousness though: terrifying, tremendous, transportative.

  • ★★★★½ review by Will Buckner on Letterboxd

    Political films, especially modern political films, are brilliant. They are always made with such raw enthusiasm that you cannot help but become invested in the story they are telling, even if they do only tell the story in a one sided way. And then, you get the super-charged, ever relevant, political world cinema.

    Now I do not know enough about the Egyptian Uprising of 2013 to comment on it, but this is a film that deals entirely with that event, and in a sledgehammer blunt fashion. So I have now received one side of the conflict, one side of the whole story, and boy it was captivating. Diab shows the whole sentiment of the 'clash' in a 100minute fever dream of a film, a film that never allows respite for neither the characters nor the viewer.

    By never allowing the camera to leave the confines of the police truck, the viewer cannot help but fell like a silent member of the captive party. A cinematic trope that has been used before, many times, but never as effectively as this. We feel each emotion in the characters' pain, their religious divisions, their pointless sub-divisions, and their collective helplessness. We as the viewer are as helpless to the films' events as much as the characters are.

    "If there's any way you can see CLASH by Egyptian director Mohamed Diab, you must." A quote from Tom Hanks. With no hyperbole, this truly is an amazing film.

    MVP: Nelly Karim, brilliantly strong performance.

  • ★★★★½ review by Raul Marques on Letterboxd

    A towering achievement in crafting an immediately enthralling microcosm of a literal and sociopolitical battlefield that's as straightforward as is intricately developed. Confining characters in a single location is an eminently traditional screenwriting approach that can often have the side effect of overly stagnating both the action and the visuals of a certain movie, but that couldn't be further from the executed here. Its positively unrestrained utilization of colors and music, particularly later in the film, only heightens the relentless poignancy of the script. One of the year's best and most relevant.

  • ★★★★★ review by Ziad El Shal on Letterboxd

    this movie will go places .. i don't know where .. but places!

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