Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Rattle The Cage (Zinzana)

Directed by: Majid Al Ansari
Starring:  , , , etc.
Release date: December 9, 2015 (Dubai International Film Festival)
Locally produced, Zinzana is an Emarati crime-thriller set in one location, a remote police lock-up “somewhere in Arabia”. The movie is a cat-and-mouse game between Talal, a prisoner, and Dabaan, a psychotic police officer. On either side of the bars, one attempts to manipulate the other towards an end that… doesn’t really fit.

Early on, while establishing the characters, the movie reveals the absolute limits of the antagonist. Anything that he does thereafter is neither an exploration nor reveal, but an over-acted repetition of his outlandish behaviour – this, even though the actor portraying Dabaan is Ali Suliman (Paradise Now, The Attack, and Best Actor winner at DIFF in 2011 for Last Friday), known for some terrific performances over the years. On the other hand, Saleh Bakri under-performs as Talal. As a witness to a horrific crime, and then faced with potential death, his despair is rarely seen. Even the backstory he is saddled with rarely brings any real emotions out. Unfortunately, the characters inhabit a script ridden with plot-holes that make little sense when watching the film, and even less in hindsight. At one point, Dabaan calls Talal’s ex-wife to the police station, to identify Talal. Given the eventual end, not only this doesn’t make sense, it goes completely against what Dabaan was eventually aiming for. Blood stains disappear, smoke and stench are ignored and plot-details are thrown in at will.

To its credit though, the movie features great production values and some well-executed shots that deserve a better film. The camera glides backwards through nooks, cracks and under a truck. We get extreme close-ups and even the hand-held shaky-cam drama shot. The movie truly looks good, and is the single biggest reason that Zinzana keeps the attention of the audience. Somewhere lurking within Zinzana is a taut thriller, but count this as a lost opportunity for the lack of a few script rewrites. Therefore, even at 92 minutes Zinzana feels like a long film – the bearing of movies that fail in execution.

Rating --> 2 out of 5

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