Written by Reem Saleh
Film: Sea Shadow
Director: Nawaf Al-Janahi
Writer Mohammed Hasan Ahmed
Stars: Omar Al-Mulla, Neven Madi, Abrar Al-Hamad, Aisha Abdul Rahman and Bilal Abdullah
Duration: 98 mins
UAE filmmaker, Nawaf el Janahi’s second feature creates an intimate portrait of life in the small seaside vicinity of Ras Al-Khaimah. Emirati teenager Mansoor, works delivering fresh juices made by his mother. He’s in love with Kaltham, the prettiest girl in the neighborhood, but has to find a means of expressing his sentiments within the restraints of local etiquette. Kaltham on the other hand, is struggling with her indifferent father who’s ignoring his family after the death of his wife.
The struggles of a young man moving towards adulthood has a universal relevance and informs the pacing of the film. Janahi portrays this journey with a deep understanding of the local environment and built the narrative around it. Written by one of the most gifted UAE scriptwriters today, Mohammed Hasan Ahmed, these young filmmakers are marking a new wave of cinema coming out of the GCC. They are basing their work in the origins of their culture, which is evident in the films content and style.
‘Sea Shadow’ accentuates a part of the Emirates unfamiliar to the rest of the world. This film goes into the very essence of traditional Emirati families, depicting life inside their homes and showing how characters face financial troubles amongst other challenges, capturing the true universality of human experience. It creates an authentic mood that helps audiences identify with the films characters without drifting away from local values.
The development of the characters’ stories were successful by creating an understanding of their motives. Kaltham’s father and his reaction, as much as it is annoying, is due to the prolonged grief that he has been experiencing. While Mansoor’s mother has an aggressive nature, it is that of a woman in charge of her family now that her husband is in a wheel chair. The consequences of their actions might turn dramatic, especially for Kaltham.
The film follows a nice rhythm all the way to its conclusion, but misses at times the climaxes needed to close certain scenes with impact. As much as the events are crucial, the thrill is sometimes lacking. Overall, Al-Janahi succeeds in this initiative to portray the complexities of growing up in the Emirates.