This is an edge of your seat sort of film. It takes place in Egypt after the Arab Spring, after the Muslim Brotherhood has been thrown out of the government and the police under Sisi are nominally in charge of a totally chaotic country, while the people are emboldened to take to the streets to push their side’s agenda. The story begins with a couple of AP journalists out covering a protest getting arrested and thrown into the back of a police truck. One is an American-Egyptian and thinks he can use that privilege to get some help. He can’t. Then another group of people are arrested at another protest. And then another. And another. Some are Muslim Brotherhood. Some were just at the wrong place at the wrong time. Some are pro-Police. And all of them are in this nightmare together.

The entire film takes place in the claustrophobic truck and it is a wonderfully thought-provoking study of allegiances and the politics of survival. The people in the truck come from every class, every age, secular and religious. Friends, families, and strangers. And they’re all trying to figure a way to get out alive and go home. Most of them come into the van with a strict sense of who they are and what they believe in, but the shared experience as they go from protest to protest, and those outside foist their opinions of who is in the truck upon them, shooting at them, throwing rocks, jeering at them, forces them to see that they are just a microcosm of the society out there. There is no Kumbaya moment, but there is detente within.

It’s a great character study and the actors are marvelous! I could almost see this as a play, being in the one small set, but the horror they see from the windows and their visceral reactions to it is integral to the story. Writer/director Mohamed Diab has given us a front row seat to Egypt’s complex civil war. He was able to stage amazing police vs protesters scenes and his cinematographer shot it all like a war photographer, replete with dust and tear gas. The story doesn’t take sides either to its credit as it takes the audience on a ride you won’t soon forget. I highly recommend this one.

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