Chaos (Heya fawda)



Venice International Film Festival

Misr International Films

VENICE, Italy -- The French and Egyptian co-production "Chaos" aspires to relate the difficulties of socially deprived citizens in an old cosmopolitan section of Cairo but it is so broadly drawn that it's hard to tell if it's meant to be serious or a lampoon.

Directed colorfully by Youssef Chahine and Khaled Youssef, the film, screened in competition at the Venice International Film Festival, tells of a brutally corrupt police officer named Hatem (Khaled Saleh) who lusts after pretty young teacher Nour (Mena Shalaby) and goes to all extremes to win her over.

Nour, however, is in love with handsome district attorney Sherif (Youssef El Sherif) and wants nothing to do with the vile and overbearing cop. Scene after scene demonstrates the scale of Hatem's corruption, the torture he suffers from his unrequited love and the terror he metes out in frustration.

But sequences that seem as if they should be taken seriously, including brutality and torture, lead to romantically slight episodes that could come from an over-the-top soap opera. The young players are awkwardly starry eyed while Saleh plays the buffoon villain like a cartoon character.

Like many places, Egypt suffers from social upheaval and there is no doubt that it deserves filmmakers to bring its troubles to the world's attention. But it's doubtful that this picture will get the job done and boxoffice potential appears slim.

Misr International Films
Directors: Youssef Chahine, Khaled Youssef
Writer: Nasser Abdel Rahman
Producers: Gabriel Khoury, Rachid Bouchareb
Director of photography: Ramsis Marzouk
Production designer: Hamed Hemdan
Music: Yasser Abdel Rahman
Costume designer: Monia Fath El Bab
Editor: Ghada Ezzedine
Hatem: Khaled Saleh
Nour: Mena Shalaby
Sherif: Youssef El Sherif
Wedad: Hala Sedky
Bahia: Hala Fakher
Running time -- 124 minutes
No MPAA rating