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The Wor­thy Di­rec­tor: Ali F Mostafa Stars: Samer Al Masri, Ali Suleiman, Samer Is­mail, Maisa Abd El­hadi Emi­rati di­rec­tor Ali F Mostafa has spo­ken in the past of a de­sire to make films in ev­ery genre – and he cer­tainly seems to be work­ing his way through the list, slowly but surely.

Af­ter suc­cess­fully tick­ing off ensem­ble drama with his 2009 debut City of Life, and road-trip com­edy with From A to B in 2014, his third fea­ture, The Wor­thy is a post-apoca- lyp­tic sur­vival thriller. This is a well-worn genre, for sure. Cinema­go­ers have seen zom­bies, nu­clear wars, viruses and even dragons cre­ate a mul­ti­tude of post-apoc­a­lyp­tic waste­lands on the big screen through the years, and Mostafa wisely does not try to rein­vent the wheel. In­stead he sets out to spin it in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion by suc­cess­fully rein­ter­pret­ing a wellestab­lished for­mula (although the Mid­dle Eastern set­ting and Ara­bic di­a­logue do un­doubt­edly bring some­thing new and unique to the ta­ble.)

The ba­sic plot will not win any prizes for orig­i­nal­ity. A rag­tag band of like­able, but un­suited to their sit­u­a­tion, apoc­a­lypse sur­vivors are just about man­ag­ing to sur­vive in a bar­ri­caded com­pound that has the only source of wa­ter for miles around.

A seem­ingly friendly, and em­i­nently more suited to post-apoc­a­lyp­tic sur­vival, in­ter­loper ar­rives at their gates and per­suades them to let him in.

All is well at first but it soon tran­spires that there is more to the new­comer than it seems. Only “the wor­thy” will sur­vive, as mem­bers of the orig­i­nal group start to be picked off one-by- one.

Mostafa’s film lacks the bud­get of a Mad Max: Fury Road, and star names of a Reign of Fire or a 28 Days Later but, still, he does an ex­cel­lent job with the lim­ited tools avail­able.

His dark, brood­ing cam­er­a­work por­trays a suit­ably grim world, while a set-piece in­volv­ing the de­struc­tion of a wa­ter tower be­lies the film’s lim­ited bud­get.

There are solid per­for­mances too, with Samer Is­mail’s un­hinged Mussa a par­tic­u­lar stand­out. There are hints in his per­for­mance of Ali Suli­man’s psy­chotic bad guy, Dabaan, from Im­age Na­tion’s pre­vi­ous lo­cally made fea­ture, Ma­jid Al Mansari’s Zin­zana (2015). Suli­man pops up again here, though his thick-spec­ta­cled, phys­i­cally and so­cially awk­ward Ja­mal is a world away from his psy­cho­pathic lothario in Zin­zana.

The film rat­tles along nicely to­wards its in­ven­tive fi­nal stand-off, which once again makes the most of the rel­a­tively lim­ited re­sources through in­ge­nious use of some chains, an aero­plane wing and ba­sic physics.

Im­age Na­tion has so far had lim­ited box-of­fice suc­cess in­ter­na­tion­ally with its lo­cally pro­duced fea­tures, but The Wor­thy is un­doubt­edly the sort of film that could rise above that. A good re­cep­tion for its world pre­miere at the Lon­don Film Fes­ti­val last year pro­vides some hope of this.

Mostafa and the pro­duc­ers seem to be hop­ing it will – the fi­nal mo­ments leave the door open for a se­quel, which would be an in­trigu­ing prospect.

Chris New­bould

AP

Michelle Wil­liams and Casey Af­fleck did not need too many words to pro­duce a mov­ing part­ner­ship.

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