Sunday, June 22, 2008

All My Life

Frameline describes All My Life as "epic in length"; unfortunately, that's not so much for having 2½ hours worth of story to tell, but for lack of an editor with the detachment to cut some of the many, many places where the film bogs down, often in repetitive scenes. It's a basic rule of film-making: if the filmmaker is also the editor, he or she is often too emotionally enmeshed with every frame to make the difficult decisions necessary to pare it down to a watchable length. There's probably a good, solid 90-minute film to be made from this footage, but by the time I finally walked out a little past the 2-hour mark, I was about ready never to set foot in a theatre again.

On the positive side, All My Life is ground-breaking for its open and explicit portrayal of gay men in Egypt, and it grapples with what has to be one of the most gut-wrenching decisions imaginable: stay in the land of my birth, despised and oppressed for my sexuality, risking arrest, blackmail, or even torture and death — or emigrate to a land where I can be openly gay but where every other aspect of my culture is alien and where I may be despised and oppressed as a foreigner. The shoestring budget of the film shows through, but that isn't enough to spoil it. If Maher Sabry brings on someone else to do a re-edit down to 90 or 100 minutes, I'll give this film a "highly recommended," but at 150 minutes, I have to say not recommended.

All My Life (طول عمري), dir. Maher Sabry, 2008 Egypt/US 150 min.

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  1. Totally agree - I thought I was going to die in the cinema! Did get a few laughs at some unintentionally funny parts though.

  2. I do agree the movie was too lengthy. Please note I'm commenting in May 2009 and the movie has since been re-edited to 120 mins. . . While its not the recommended 90-100mins I do find that the producer has done a very good job re-editing this. While I also agree with the original commentator that a basic rule of thumb is to have someone else edit one's work, it is very tough to do this on a shoe string budget. All said and done the movie brings forth critical topics of gay life experienced in Egypt, the joy yet frustration of living in diaspora, and is very entertaining!... All in all I would highly recommend seeing this.