Eid movies: ‘Ibn al-Konsol’–the worst of a bad lot

Ibn al-Konsol ('The Ambassador’s Son') is typical of Eid movies, which are generally vapid and superficial productions. It is a plot-less and dull experience, obviously designed merely to generate revenue for the Egyptian film industry. The act of purchasing a ticket to watch this movie is akin to keeping a sick beast alive–when you should in fact be reaching for a shotgun.

Along with this Eid’s other big offering, Zaheimer, Ibn al-Konsol is so bland that it defies categorization–a comedy with few recognizable attempts at humor; a drama that fails to engage the viewer in any way; a ‘con’ movie so mishandled it doesn’t even qualify as one.

For any readers curious about the film’s plot who still haven’t gotten the point this reviewer is trying to make, here it is, complete with spoilers, in the hopes that it will dissuade anyone from wasting their time on it.

Master forger Adel (Khaled Saleh), known among his criminal brethren as al-Konsol (the “Ambassador”), is arrested and sent to jail for 30-odd years. As he is being dragged away in court, Adel’s two partners, sitting in the benches, beg him for his help. He refuses. As soon as he is released, Adel is approached by the person who for the past few years has been anonymously sending him care packages–a man who claims to be Adel’s estranged son, Essam (Ahmed al-Saqqa).

Bearded and fiercely devout, Essam could not be more different than his father, who, having just got out of jail, desperately wants to get laid. Essam takes his homeless father in, despite the latter’s claims that he has no son. Between using his son’s computer to search for pornography and being generally obnoxious, Adel manages to contact a hooker (Ghada Adel) who agrees to come over.

The hooker, Wiza, moves in when Adel convinces Essam that she is his cousin, and that he needs her around to take care of him since he is becoming old and frail–which is convenient for Wiza, since she needs to fake an Italian visa. Adel, however, is old now and has shaky hands (apparently, master forgers use their hands, not computers, even in 2010). Will he be able to convince his son Essam to abandon his pious ways and embark on the path to a life of crime?

The answer is yes. Because Essam isn’t really his son and the hooker isn’t really a hooker. It’s all just a scam. And if you couldn’t see that coming in the synopsis above, Arafa does his absolute best to make sure you can in the actual film by exaggerating everything and wasting as much time as possible because he "secretly" knows that none of what’s happening on screen really matters–that it’s all just a really clever lie.

What makes it worse is that we were just here a few days ago with Zaheimer’s almost identical–and equally bungled–storyline. In telling the same story twice, Arafa should get something right, even if by accident.  But no such luck. The film’s pace is brutally slow, and Arafa somehow manages to convince a fine actor as talented and capable as Khaled Saleh to embarrass himself by literally acting like an ape.

And while it’s nice to see Ahmed al-Saqqa actually acting again–instead of dodging explosions and cart-wheeling over cars–it’s sad to see him putting genuine effort into something so unworthy. He fares light years better than Ghada Adel, though, who delivers what one hopes–for her sake, at least–is an all-time worst performance, as a hooker with a catchphrase.

Ibn al-Konsol is guaranteed to waste your time and leave you with a burning desire to break something. To put it bluntly, I’m getting paid for this. You won’t. Stay away.

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