Film Review: Asmaa (2011)

The controversial issue of AIDS patients, living in secrecy fearing the cruelty of the society that we live in, has been highly regarded in the last years but Amr Salama brilliantly portrayed this struggle in, what we can call is, a beautiful piece of art that gets the audience easily.

The film tells the story of a middle-aged woman suffering from HIV and the struggle between keeping her disease a secret and striving to get help to remove her infected gall bladder; as every doctor she went to refused to perform the surgery fearing her condition. Until she is given the opportunity to appear on a talk show and try to get the sympathy of the people to help her. Starring Hend Sabry, Maged El-Kedwany, Hany Adel, Ahmed Kamal and Sayed Ragab. Written and directed by Amr Salama and produced by Mohamed Hefzy. Cinematography by Ahmed Gabr who did a brilliant job and also known for 678 (2010) and Eshtebak (2016).

Hend Sabry’s performance was outstanding portraying the role of a 45 years old Egyptian mother, an HIV carrier, who works a menial job to support her only daughter and her aging father. This performance topped her previous ones and left the audience in tears. At the beginning of the movie, Maged El-Kedwany’s character’s intentions weren’t clear; a TV show host who appears to be violent and showing off, then we discover his sympathy to Asmaa. The acting in the movie was just right with each actor perfecting his/her role.

The transition between the present and the flashbacks was exciting building the suspense gradually; Asmaa’s rejection to reveal how the disease was transmitted to her was brave and encouraging, it kept the viewer eager until it was revealed at the end of the movie. You can always tell a great director by the beginning and the ending of the movie, and Amr Salama just perfected both in Asmaa.

The film cleverly balanced the sorrow and cheerful, emerging the viewers into Asmaa’s life and focusing on her struggle with society’s malfunctions and judgments; the accusations of society that being an HIV patient is a blasphemy and anyone who’s infected is ultimately a sinner.

Asmaa is a great movie which will leave you in tears in the end. Amr Salama and Hend Sabry did a tremendous effort and it was clear in the movie. Asmaa is a must watch film and in my humble opinion it’s Salama’s greatest movie yet.