Friday,24 November, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1126, 13 - 19 December 2012
Friday,24 November, 2017
Issue 1126, 13 - 19 December 2012

Ahram Weekly

Blow Down

Soha Hesham does not care much for the latest Egyptian whodunit

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Al-Ahram Weekly

The film Mesawwar Atil (Snapshot) participated in the official competition of the Cairo International Film Festival in its 35th edition and was released immediately in commercial cinemas after the festival. The film pursues the trials and tribulations of a photographer, Ahmed Sakr (Eiad Nassar), who appears in the avant titres photographing a crime as it is being committed; Ahmed is a newspaper photographer, but his unprecedented work in crime — trailing what seems to be a serial killer, since several murder victims have been found and photographed by him — is frowned on by other journalists at his workplace.
While those discussions take place about Ahmed’s work, one of his coworkers tries to call him but in vain, during which time Ahmed wakes up to find his wife Mariam murdered right next to him. Later he pays a visit to his sister Marwa (Horiya Farghali); when he realises he was about to meet her husband Othman, he leaves immediately; while leaving he bumps into Othman at the door. Othman is a police officer who was formerly in charge of investigating Mariam’s murder, and the investigations did not yield a suspect who could be tried. That must be why Ahmed seems to give Othman a look of blame.
Ahmed lives alone in a big house which he bought from one of his wife’s relatives; he was about to publish his book of photography — the last picture of which he is still searching for — with the help of one of his friends. Later Ahmed resigns his job; as a gift, before leaving, he gives one of his coworkers his camera and buys a new one. After a few shots, the new camera is stuck on the job; and a seemingly homeless beggar in tattered clothes, watching, walks over and silently starts to fix Ahmed’s camera while Ahmed looks on, disturbed, until it is effortlessly fixed.
This is the start of the thriller as such. Chatting with the man, Ahmed discovers his photographic background and is invited back to the man’s house to see an old camera of which the man is particularly fond. In the house the man shows Ahmed a very old camera and tells him a very long weird story about it: how it belonged to Princess Fatma who loved it so much that she wanted it to be buried with her; it was actually stolen from her grave. Eventually the man is persuaded to sell Ahmed the camera.
As he attempts to buy spare parts for it at a camera shop, however, Ahmed discovers through the camera shop attendant who also wants to buy it that there is a different story behind it; the attendant directs him to Nooh (Tarek Al-Telmisani), an old man who lives in a huge palace and is obviously suffering from Alzheimer’s, and who survives by periodically selling his own antiques; he is unable to provide Ahmed with any information. Screenwriter Amr Salama thus fails to follow through such details as the old camera and the book that supposedly accompanied it but was lost.
Later, Ahmed starts to observe photographs of Mariam’s murder once more, paying attention to all the small details that might lead to a new thread driving Othman to start a new investigation. In his lab at his house he spends more time observing more details from said pictures, something that makes director Karim Al-Adl (Walad wi Bent, A Boy and a Girl, 2010) seem as if he is drawing on the 1966 British film Blow-Up directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, which is set in London, about a photographer who finds a suspicious details in his shots that reveal a possible crime.
At this point Othman notices that all the previous victims were photographed by Ahmed for his newspaper. At the same time, Ahmed meets a young woman named Khadiga (Dorra), the daughter of his wife’s relatives whom he has only seen once coincidentally. She now wants him to photograph a hospital for possible renovation; and when they are caught trespassing during that process — they have entered illegally — Khadiga notices that Ahmed knows the way out and is adept at escaping: another false clue. They are nonetheless taken to the police station where Othman follows them to obtain their release. On seeing Khadiga Othman begins to suspect her, knowing there was a woman who visited all the victims’ families to ask after the victims months after they are killed.
Othman begins showing a picture of Khadiga to all the victims’ families; one family member identifies not her but another picture that he sees accidentally — of Mariam; the woman who would visit and ask about the victims. This leads Othman to question his wife, Ahmed’s sister, further; and she begins to reveal secrets from Ahmed’s childhood: that on hitting his head during a football match Ahmed claimed for a while to be able to see events from the future and was hospitalised. Incidents rapidly escalate when Othman confronts Ahmed with the fact that his late wife used to visit and ask about all the previous victims. Ahmed starts to look for more information in Mariam’s stuff to find pictures of and e-mails from Khadiga, who didn’t mention she knew his wife.
Finally Khadiga is confronted by Ahmed about her previous relationship with Mariam; she admits they were friends, but starts accusing him of killing Mariam and all the other victims whom he has photographed. Ahmed finally confesses to the murders, explaining that he did them in order to prevent the victims from doing something horrible which he knew they would do in the future; he killed Mariam when it seemed she would betray him. Othman finally kills Ahmed with a bullet to the head as he is about to kill Khadiga with a knife.
The film offers fine potential in its first half; nevertheless, the script has too many loose ends, and the solution to the mystery is disappointingly predictable.

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