By: Malak Saad
In the thoroughly entertaining, albeit unorthodox, Egyptian drama Ali, The Goat and Ibrahim, the protagonist falls in love with a goat.
Filmmaker Sherif El Bendary’s feature debut celebrates love in all its forms, especially those that are unacknowledged and at times shunned for their unconventionality.
The film demonstrates the independent style specific to avant-garde cinema and prolific in international film festivals that Egyptian audiences may not be accustomed to or familiar with.
The peculiarity of the plot is precisely what makes the movie stand out as an innovative work that could challenge standards of contemporary Egyptian cinema.
The film puts together a cast with impeccable chemistry that brings to light themes of friendship, love, and self-acceptance.
The movie is based on an unpublished story by director Ibrahim El Batout and was brought to life by screenwriter Ahmed Amer.
What truly showcases its brilliance is its potential to be viewed as a lighthearted film or analyzed for its pertinent yet also allegorical social commentary.
The two titular characters suffer in different ways, one from mental illness and the other from chronic pain.
The film, however, portrays these afflictions in a warm-hearted in a manner that allows the audience to draw parallels to pains of their own.
One cannot help but feel like part of the road trip to inner peace the trio embark on.
Ibrahim hears jarring, high-pitched noises, an unbearable hereditary affliction, which led his mother to take her own life, and his grandfather to deafen himself.
Ali’s immense love for the white goat is revealed to be rooted in a superstition about it being haunted with the spirit of his dead girlfriend Nada.
Both Ibrahim and Ali visit a healer and set off on a road trip to search for inner peace that they both dearly crave.
Ahmed Magdy, the actor playing Ibrahim, said he was drawn to the role and decided to play it notwithstanding the movie’s potential success or failure.
“I didn’t worry about the response of people because I don’t usually do roles thinking what will people like. I [choose] a role because I know it will affect people. All my choices in films are like that,” Magdy told The Caravan.
The movie premiered in the 13th Dubai International Film Festival, and garnered overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics.
Ali Sobhy, the actor playing Ali, won the award for best actor at the festival.
The movie was called a “surprisingly guileless, ultimately winning buddy-road movie,” by The Hollywood Reporter, and scored a rating of 8.2 on The Internet Movie Database (IMDb).
“The film is very well written, it had a lot of effort put into it and it’s well done.There are new actors and the whole team working on this film is great,” Magdy added.
After widespread critical acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival, Ali, The Goat and Ibrahim is now being screened at over 30 movie screens across France.