An Egyptian leper and his young orphan friend journey south in search of family in debuting director A.B. Shawky’s lovingly made road trip movie, Yomeddine. Anchored by lead Rady Gamal’s warm-hearted charisma, the film is a sweet, solid first feature marbled with genuinely touching moments […].Shawky […] shows a sure hand with his non-professional actors and, together with Argentinian cinematographer Federico Cesca, demonstrates a fine compositional eye.
[…] Beshay ([Rady] Gamal) […] lives in a leper colony, eking out a living with his donkey Harby by selling the salvageable trash he collects. Though abandoned at the colony as a child by his father, he’s had a better life than many, yet when his mentally ill wife, Ireny (Shoq Emara), dies, he decides to seek out his birth family […]. By the time he realizes his young friend Obama (Ahmed Abdelhafiz) has hidden himself in the donkey cart, it’s too late to send him back to the orphanage, so the two continue the journey south […].
The film’s visuals are always attractive without engaging in poverty porn, and while Shawky ensures a firm sense of place, essential for any road movie, he maintains his focus on the characters themselves. […] “Yomeddine” is Arabic for Judgment Day, mentioned twice: Once in reference to animals, who bypass judgment and go straight to heaven, and then as a way of bringing attention to the primacy of the inner, rather than outer, being.
Jay Weissberg, Variety