The Best Of Times

Hala Khalil's first feature is a slickly mounted but bumpily conceived chick flick that veers from silly comedy to tearjerker to romance to melodrama, rendering its three heroines rather high-maintenance company en route. Export prospects look mostly small-screen beyond Arab and women's fests.

With:
With: Hind Sabri, Mina Shalabi, Hanan Turk, Amr Waked, Samie Al-Adel, Hassan Hossny, Khairy Bishara, Maha Abu Auf, Ahmad Kamal, Khaled Saleh.

Hala Khalil’s first feature is a slickly mounted but bumpily conceived chick flick that veers from silly comedy to tearjerker to romance to melodrama, rendering its three heroines rather high-maintenance company en route. Still, those looking for a smattering of all the basic entertainment values in one feel-good package may enjoy “The Best of Times'” contempo Egyptian spin on the sudsy-comedic female bonding turf of films like “The First Wives Club” and “Crimes of the Heart.” Export prospects look mostly small-screen beyond Arab and women’s fests.

After her mother’s accidental death, tightly wound career woman Salma (a rather overwrought Hanan Turk) is inconsolable, refusing comfort from her well-meaning stepfather “Uncle” Rabie (Samie Al-Adel). She’s drawn out of her funk, however, by mysterious gifts and messages. Are they from the eccentric-but-cute puppeteer next door? A teacher once infatuated with her? Her real father? Helping her to investigate, and get-a-life in the process, are reunited best-schoolmates Doha (Mina Shalabi) and Yusriyah (Hind Sabri). They are going through their own dramas with fiancee and husband, respectively. Cluttered agenda often rings false, but viewers up for an easy laugh and cry won’t mind.

The Best Of Times

Egypt

Production: An Arab Co. for Film Production and Distribution presentation of an El Adl Group production. Produced by Mohamed El Adl. Directed by Hala Khalil. Screenplay, Wessam Seliman, Khalil.

Crew: Camera (color), Ahmed Elmorsy; editor, Manar Hossny; music, Khaled Hammad; production designer, Sherine Farghal. Reviewed at San Francisco Arab Film Festival, Sept. 25, 2005. Arabic dialogue. Running time: 113 MIN.

With: With: Hind Sabri, Mina Shalabi, Hanan Turk, Amr Waked, Samie Al-Adel, Hassan Hossny, Khairy Bishara, Maha Abu Auf, Ahmad Kamal, Khaled Saleh.

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