Scheherazad, Tell Me a Story

135 minutes 2013

Yousry Nasrallah, a former screenwriter for Youssef Chahine and a successful director in his own right, achieves something rare with this Egyptian comedy-drama (2009): an urgent political statement that's also a funny, sexy entertainment. A rebellious TV host (Mona Zaki), threatened with cancellation for having aired too many exposés of government corruption, embarks on a series of human-interest stories about middle-class women who are mad as hell about the country's institutionalized sexism. The movie is refreshingly blunt in its feminist outrage, but Nasrallah never allows this to compromise character, humor, or artistry. Earthy and well-spoken, the women make a point of enjoying heated conversations and good sex, and the visual style is comparably sensual, with flamboyant tracking shots that evoke melodramas from Hollywood's golden age. In Arabic with subtitles.

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