More than slightly off-topic I know, but I thought I would make a small detour into movie reviewing …
City of Life goes on general release across the UAE from today and I recommend any UAE-based reader to try to catch it. I was lucky enough to see the second “premiere” of the film a few weeks ago at the Gulf Film Festival (where my wife was also showing a film). Two reasons to bother: 1. cinematically it is likely to be the best made portrayal of Dubai you’ll ever see and 2. it will probably become quite controversial.
The film is a Robert Altman style intertwining of three independent storylines: the urban adventures of two bored young Emirati guys, the struggles of a feisty but broke Indian taxi driver with Bollywood ambitions and – weakest and most cliche’d of the three – a romance between a clueless Hungarian air stewardess and noxious Brit yuppie. Actually there’s a fourth plot, scarcely revealed – but discussing it would spoil the ending. None of the stories are very original or profound but they are entertaining enough. The pleasure of the film is the camerawork (though the film is promoted as the first ever locally-produced full-length feature, I’d guess much of the technical expertise was imported).
Surprisingly for a film that must have been fairly carefully vetted before screening, the image of Dubai that emerges is distinctly seedy. Alcohol is consumed prodigiously throughout – by locals as well as expats – and almost every character is chasing sex, money or adrenaline – or some combination of the three. And the locals drive dangerously! It is hard to imagine that there won’t be a backlash from the pious and uptight. At a minimum the newspaper letter pages should be lively whilst the film is on release!
Here’s the trailer.