Movie Review: The Ups and Downs of Asser Yassin and Amina Khalil’s ‘Saheb El Maqam’

This piece might contain minor spoilers that won’t affect your viewing experience.

We were all surprised when we heard about the first-ever commercial Arabic-language movie to be streamed on a digital platform before cinemas. The cast and the names behind the project took the surprise to a whole new level. The movie features Asser Yassin, Youssra, Amina Khalil, Bayomy Fouad, Mahmoud Abdelmoghny, Riham Abdelghafour, and much more! It’s directed by Mohamed Gamal El-Adl, produced by Ahmed El Sobky, and written by Ibrahim Issa.

The movie follows the story of Yehia, a smart and successful young businessman who gets into a family crisis right after he destroys a religious attraction to build his new compound. The story takes you along on his spiritual journey, trying to help others and to right what’s wrong. In his journey, you get to see a number of heart-moving side stories of the people he’s trying to help.

“Saheb El Maqam” is, by all means, a very entertaining journey where you won’t get bored for a single minute during the two-hour movie. The fact that you’ll watch it from the comfort of your home is a whole new experience, and with that budget, the bar of expectations will be raised high for future projects and for other streaming platforms in the Arab World.

As expected from Ibrahim Issa, the story is fresh and is like nothing we’ve seen before. The movie is super intriguing and it tackles some huge topics and themes in a way that will definitely boggle your mind. Through themes like spirituality, greed, selfishness, family, and helping people, you’re guaranteed to question a lot by the end of the movie.

There are a lot of things that I liked about the movie and other things that I didn’t. The acting is definitely one of the things that you’ll like; everyone from the main actors to the heroes of the side stories did a great job. Asser Yassin did a phenomenal job, making 2020 one of his best years after he killed it in Ramadan 2020 with “B100 Wesh”. Bayomy Fouad aced his two roles as the twin partners of Yehia, and you can guess which is which just from his facial expressions.

Youssra reminded everyone why she’s a living legend and gave a great performance as expected from her. Some of the heroes of the side stories took things to the next level with their performance like Mahmoud Abdelmoghy whose scene moved thousands of hearts and is being heavily shared on social media, Ibrahim Nasr, Mohamed Lotfy, and Mohsen Mohie El Dein.

There are a few downsides to the movie that might annoy you, but won’t change the fact that you’ll enjoy the overall experience. For example, although some of the side stories are heart-moving, they are missing some depth; you feel like things are a bit forced in order to move along with the story.

Also, the holy woman, Rouh, appearing randomly everywhere that Yehia goes is a nice touch but becomes repetitive and cliched at some point, and it keeps on reminding you that he’s being tested instead of the already convincing character development.

Overall, the two-hours you’ll spend watching the movie is definitely time well spent. The movie will open some interesting conversations and discussions that will last long after it’s over. And you’ll all be reminded about why one shouldn’t take their families and loved ones for granted, why you should always try to help the people around you without expecting anything in return, and the importance of seeking spirituality for the good of one’s soul.

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