AKA: Murabae Dawaar
Genre: Crime Drama/Dark Comedy
Year Released: 2002
Distributor: ArtMattan/Facets Video
Running Time: 14 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: 16+
Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: Fallen Angels Paradise, Scheherazade Tell Me a Story, Traitors
-Rotating Square is one of two bonus films in ArtMattan’s Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story DVD set.
-Rotating Square is free to stream on the director’s Vimeo account.
-This is the debut film from Egyptian filmmaker Ahmed Hassouna.
-Hassan is played by Bassem Samra. He is originally from Giza and was a former teacher. Interestingly enough, a documentary was made about him called Sibyyan wa Banat.
ArtMattan’s releases involving of multiple movies together on DVD is great and certainly a bang for one’s buck. The fact that I bought some of their DVDs during their sale was a good choice. After reviewing Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story, I get to go back to Egypt again with this particular set. That was a goal country if you will with my 2021 geography plan. It also gives me more material and an excuse to have another short film in my little portfolio.
Will this be another good example of Egyptian cinema?
Rotating Square involves a married couple named Samy and Rania. They have big plans to move from Egypt to America to start a restaurant business. Things start off normal as they plan on going to the airport that day. Rania’s sister Sarah show up at their apartment as they’re packing their things. Samy notices her and gets very sleazy with touching her. It was a bad move because both sisters were in a murder plot where they succeed in killing Samy. They figure out what to do with the body as they call in a “cleaner” named Hassan who is macking on Rania right after her husband died by their hands. Of course, there would be a major twist in this murder story that will tear everyone apart.
This was a brief, yet very edgy watch. I went into this movie blind as there was no synopsis in the DVD, nor did I look it up. Okay, there was a synopsis as a DVD extra, but I didn’t look at it until after viewing this film. Anyways, I wondered how everything would play out after the sisters murder Samy. To be fair, Samy did come off as scummy around them when Sarah showed up. When Hassan came in to dispose of the body, things really got fascinating with the twist. Not going to lie, when they killed Samy for his infidelity, I thought “Here we go again, another movie of a woman killing her cheating husband while being justified” until I saw Rania get WAY too friendly with Hassan. I won’t go into every facet of the twist after that, but this really shows how Rania was such a flaming hypocrite. This was such an anti-cliche for these plots since female characters ALWAYS get away with bodying their husbands/boyfriends. She even faces consequences for her actions that I will not get into and even her sister calls her out on the aftermath. There was some good acting with all the different characters. Tamer Karawan (also the composer of Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story) did a good job with the music. The ending certainly gets dark with everything happening which is nothing like the beginning of the film.
Rotating Square doesn’t always have the best angles. The first thing I noticed was the low-budget production. This was made in 2002, but I thought this was made a decade earlier with a basic camera like someone was making a student film or a fan-made soap opera. There were lighting issues and the filming hasn’t aged too well. This was supposed to be a dark comedy, but I thought the tone was way too deadpan for there to be any comedy. The twist did have mildly humorous events, but it’s played too straight. I’ve seen British comedies with more levity in the presentation. It just came off as too serious to me and I can tell the difference between seriousness and deadpan humor.
This was a watch that was just okay for me. I get what they were trying to do with some of the twists and hypocrisy of the main characters which I appreciate. It did come off as amateurish and it lacked a lot of the morbid humor for playing it too straight. Rotating Square was average in my opinion. Nothing horrible, but nothing noteworthy.
Adjustable Point Scores:
-Add 1-2 points if you like morbid movies.
-Add 1 point if you like Egyptian movies
-Subtract 1-2 points if you want more dark humor that’s straightforward.
-Subtract 2-3 points if you want pristine cinematography.
-Brutally inverts the “get away with killing your cheating husband” trope
-Very low-budget filming
-Can’t decide to be a serious drama or a low-key dark comedy
Final Score: 5/10 points
Content Advisory: Rotating Square isn’t for kids. There’s a good amount of swearing, innuendo, and sexual references even though the sex scenes are offscreen. Samy was too loose with cheating on his wife with her own sister. Murder is a major plot point and it isn’t just limited to Samy’s demise. Hassan also knows how to make sure a body isn’t identifiable and that work gets bloody.
All photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws. Rotating Square is property of Ahmed Hassouna, ArtMattan, and Facets Video. The screenshot is from Vimeo and is property of Ahmed Hassouna.