by Dave O’Flanagan
It’s a wonderfully positive testament to director Amr Salama, and the Egyptian film industry, that creativity has somehow wriggled out from under the oppressive tarpaulin of political turmoil. Owing to the sensitivity of Christian-Muslim relations in Egypt, Salama’s black comedy about a Christian boy posing as a Muslim has been in development for several years. It’s unfortunate then that the film bears all the hallmarks of this protracted gestation period. First and foremost, Excuse My French is cringe-inducingly bereft of genuine laughs, perhaps it’s simply a case of humour being lost in translation, but good comedy transcends language. Salama’s script attempts to manufacture humorous set-ups and situations, but almost every single one fails to deliver. Despite the socio-political subtext, there’s nothing unique or original about Salama’s film – which extends to Hani Adel’s score which sounds remarkably similar to Damon Gough’s About A Boy score. It’s also jarringly fractured, with too many of the scenes feeling like they were shot in isolation from the rest of the film. Excuse My French has its heart in the right place, it’s just a shame that it has no funnybones to go along with it.
Excuse My French is showing on Oct 9th, 11th & 19th at the 58th BFI London Film Festival