The Yacoubian Building review

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This sprawling melodrama tries to cram everything you always wanted to know about modern Egypt into one mega-soap. The central metaphor is the once ritzy, now faded Yacoubian building, home to most of the film’s half-dozen principals: the world-weary roué Zaki Pasha, an aristocrat now sleeping in his office; the pretty menial worker Bosnaina, who lives with her family in one of the hovels on the roof; her former beau, Taha, seeking refuge in Islamic fundamentalism after he’s tortured by the very police force he once tried to join; Haj, a pragmatically devout entrepreneur, and so on and so forth. Helmer Marwan Hamed has created a magnum opus with his first film and this long but compelling journey is a real eye-opener into the social problems, corruption and hypocrisy that beset this modern Arab state.

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