Sameh Abdel Aziz's "The Cry of an Ant" is billed as the first Egyptian feature to incorporate the recent revolution but displays a tasteless opportunism made worse by a screechy melodrama.

Billed as the first Egyptian feature to incorporate the recent revolution into its narrative, Sameh Abdel Aziz’s “The Cry of an Ant” displays a tasteless opportunism made worse by the kind of screechy melodrama that gives populist regional cinema a bad rep. Shooting was almost finished when the uprising began, prompting a hasty rewrite to take advantage of the volatile situation. The idea might have worked if the pic, meant as a satire on corruption, wasn’t so clumsily made and ineptly edited. The fact that Cannes relegated the sole screening to the beach shows the fest’s true feelings; buyers beware.

After six years unjustly imprisoned in Iraq, Egyptian contractor Gouda (Amr Abdel Gelil) returns to Cairo, where corrupt officials make life difficult. He gets involved in political causes, is disgusted by the graft, yet winds up involved in shady deals. Meanwhile wife Wafaa (Rania Youssef), thinking he’s dead, is in the Gulf working as a suggestive dancer. The revolution becomes Gouda’s wake-up call, but its images are crassly used. Broad, unfunny comedy is accompanied by lots of shouting, and the script is just a mess. Lensing is equally hamfisted.

The Cry of an Ant

Egypt

Production

A Misr Cinema production. (International sales: Misr Cinema, Cairo.) Produced by Dina Korayem. Executive producer, Mohamed Bondok. Directed by Sameh Abdel Aziz. Screenplay, Tarek Abdel Gelil.

Crew

Camera (color), Galal Elzaki; editor, Eslam Lotfy; music, Ahmed Maghraby, Khaled Dagher; production designer, Emad Elkhodary. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Cinema de la plage), May 19, 2011. Running time: 116 MIN.

With

Amr Abdel Gelil, Rania Youssef, Abdul Imam Abdullah.

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