Captain Abu Raed

Captain Abu Raed


Reviewed by: Tony Sullivan

Abu Raed is a janitor at Amman International airport. His nondescript existence is transformed when he rescues a discarded captain's hat from a rubbish bin. While sporting it on the way home he spotted by the local pack of urchins who determine he must be a pilot and clamour to hear his exploits. After a while, Raed grudgingly obliges and soon finds himself spinning elaborate yarns to the kids, the fabricated escapades of "Captain" Abu Raed.

This one-man Jordanian Jackanory finds himself increasingly drawn into the lives of his listeners. One boy in particular, Murad (Hussein Al-Sous), becomes something of a crusade for Raed. Murad is hostile and seeks to discredit him with the rest of the children, but his rancour hides a miserable home life. Meanwhile, Nour (Rana Sultan), a real pilot, with her own struggles against the norms of Jordanian society crosses Raed's path and they strike up an unlikely friendship.

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An assured debut feature from writer/director/producer Amin Matalqa who has a handful of short subjects to his credit. He clearly knows when to show restraint and avoids the potential pitfalls of over sentimentality.

The real coup here is Nadim Sawalha as the good Captain. He has spent his cinematic career playing an assortment of stereotypical Middle Eastern character types - background colour for the likes of James Bond - so to find him pulling off the Philippe Noiret Cinema Paradiso thing is nothing short of a revelation. World weary, yet proud of what little he has, Sawalha excels as the mouse who at least contemplates a roar as he tries to make a difference in the lives of his young audience.

Matalqa cites the Coens, Hitchcock and Guiseppe Tornatore as influences and certainly there is a touch of Paradiso here. Yet the film seems closest in spirit to the wayward dreamers who populate the films of Bill Forsyth (Gregory's Girl and Local Hero).

Reviewed on: 15 May 2008
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Uplifting tale about an airport janitor who spins stories for street kids after being mistaken by them for a pilot.

Director: Amin Matalq

Writer: Amin Matalq

Starring: Nadim Sawalha, Hussein Al-Sous, Rana Sultan, Uday Al-Qiddissi, Ghandi Saber

Year: 2007

Runtime: 110 minutes

Country: Jordan

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