An enjoyable introduction to authentic Egyptian cinema with singing and dancing, broad comedy and plenty of melodrama, “Silence, We’re Rolling” is watchable local fare whose main auds will be found in Arab-speaking countries. Because it was shot with irony and intelligence by Youssef Chahine, it’s also likely to get substantial festival exposure. Chahine’s return to popular filmmaking, after receiving Cannes’ 1997 jury prize for “Destiny,” stumbled with the stridently political “The Other.” Here he is back in form and much more subtle in portraying the class struggle amid musical numbers and love songs.
The shining eyes and superb voice of Egyptian singer Latifa guide the story down its predictable path. Malak (Latifa) is a rich and famous singer whose boring husband is divorcing her. She takes up with the younger Lamei (Ahmed Wafik), a rakish gold-digger in the Mastroianni mold. Friends and family conspire to open her eyes to his heelishness in a rousing finale reminiscent of 1930s Hollywood comedy. Magda El Khatib is a hoot as Malak’s saucy old grandmother, intent on marrying Malak to the chauffeur’s college graduate son.