A new Egyptian movie called Aasel Eswid (or, Black Honey) came out recently and I was told to go see it by a guy who sold me rat poison. After learning more about it, I was convinced that it was a movie made for me.
Ahmed Helmy, the star of the film, plays an Egyptian named Masry who left for America as a child and is returning to Egypt for the first time in twenty years to work and potentially live there permanently. Since he's been away so long, his Arabic is broken and he 's culturally assimilated as an American (according to the director's conception of what the average American dresses and acts like). He stands out from the other Egyptians around him and is treated very differently as a result, so, of course, hilarity ensues.
What surprised me most about the film was not the portray of Ahmed Helmy's character as an ignorant, arrogant, and naive American (that's pretty much expected)but rather, how negative Egypt and Egyptians are portrayed in the movie. Most of them are thieving, manipulative, corrupt, and dirty. It's all done in a comedic way, but still... pretty harsh (Not that I'm saying it's not true). It's definitely a movie that can only be produced and directed in Egypt, otherwise Egyptians would be up in arms about how their country was shown in such a bad light. It's kinda like the idea that you can make fun of your sister but if anyone else does, they're going to be in big trouble.
As for the movie itself, I thought it was pretty funny. I identified with many of Masry's frustrations but I definitely wasn't laughing as hard as others in the theater. Part of the problem was that whenever Masry said things wrong in Arabic, they usually sounded fine to me. Oh well. Maybe one day I'll understand everything and speak perfectly, but until then, call me black honey.
A trailer for the film: