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Sarrah Abdelrahman

Having the habit of focusing most on acting isn’t always good when watching an “independent” film, but Nawara left me pleasantly surprised. Not just because of the exceptional performance of the otherwise commercial-movie actor Menna Shalaby, which won her best actress award at the Dubai Film Festival last year, but also because all the actors are believable — a rare phenomenon in many of the films we see.

Maybe it’s an unfair stereotype that the acting in Egyptian independent films is bad or that you’re always left feeling confused by it, but if it is, then Nawara contributes to breaking it. The actors have rhythm and take comfort in acting naturally. This can actually be attributed to the director as well, who didn’t ask them to overdo it with the drama, and on the well-written foundation of her own script. The characters are layered, with the protagonist having multiple things to fear and think about before taking any action.

There’s one intense scene where Menna Shalaby’s acting is so effortless that she doesn’t even blink like herself — she really seems to channel Nawara’s gestures and tics.

Mahmoud Hemeida always has been and always will be a pro. He fits the rich father, a character ripe for bad acting, perfectly. The scene in which his mood changes from being stubbornly grumpy about fleeing his home to post-dive-in-the-pool calm and interested i ...

Having the habit of focusing most on acting isn’t always good when watching an “independent” film, but Nawara left me pleasantly surprised. Not just because of the exceptional performance of the otherwise commercial-movie actor Menna Shalaby, which won her best actress award at the Dubai Film Festival last year, but also because all the actors are believable — a rare phenomenon in many of the films we see.

Maybe it’s an unfair stereotype that the acting in Egyptian independent films is bad or that you’re always left feeling confused by it, but if it is, then Nawara contributes to breaking it. The actors have rhythm and take comfort in acting naturally. This can actually be attributed to the director as well, who didn’t ask them to overdo it with the drama, and on the well-written foundation of her own script. The characters are layered, with the protagonist having multiple things to fear and think about before taking any action.

There’s one intense scene where Menna Shalaby’s acting is so effortless that she doesn’t even blink like herself — she really seems to channel Nawara’s gestures and tics.

Mahmoud Hemeida always has been and always will be a pro. He fits the rich father, a character ripe for bad acting, perfectly. The scene in which his mood changes from being stubbornly grumpy about fleeing his home to post-dive-in-the-pool calm and interested in Nawara’s opinion is magical. He seems to use the pool as a tool to feel like he will literally always be at home.

Amir Salah al-Din, someone I was happy to just act in the same film with back in 2009, is so subtle when denying Nawara’s accusations at one point that even though I knew the character was lying, I doubted it for a second.

(My opinion of Abbass Aboulhassan’s acting is in parentheses because he is a very scary man and I’m hoping if he does find this article, his eyes will register this as unimportant so he doesn’t read it and kill me in my sleep.)

The one thing that frustrated me a bit was the ending. Nawara ends too quickly, yet you kind of know what’s about to happen. Which brings me to the biggest thing that hit me watching the film — the reality of the chaos that we live in. No one gets to be happy — not the rich, not the poor. Actually, there is one side that is happy: the state. Nawara confronted me with the truth that there is such a long way to go to reach any level of social justice in this country.

Finally, I’m happy that there is yet another female-led film in which the main character doesn’t only worry about her man. You worry with her about all the factors that make her life just plain shitty.

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