The Alleys takes place in the claustrophobic backstreets of Amman, Jordan, where people’s lives are controlled by gossip, as well as the brutal enforcement of gangsters like Abbas (Monzer Reyahnah). Ali (Emad Azmi) is a two-bit hustler who wants to get away from this stifling neighbourhood and take his lover Lana (Baraka Rahmani) with him. But his schemes soon spiral out of control and the streets are very quickly bathed in blood.
Much like the avenues and alleyways in which it takes place, this feature is full of twists and turns, juggling a number of different plot lines to tell a complex web of individual but interconnected stories. While it has a lot of characters and character arcs to deal with, the film manages to pull this off through unifying themes like self-image, desire and the social obsession with “keeping up appearances,” making for a coherent and satisfying narrative experience despite the size of its cast.
This is also helped by a very strong script, which is able to masterfully shift tone from intense and violent to playful and funny without losing any momentum. The movie has a very dark sense of humour at times but this still works well to balance out the brutality of the piece and feeds back into the work’s overarching thematic concerns in very clever ways. The delicate balance between violence and fun is bolstered by the strong performances of Bassel Ghandour’s large ensemble, with every actor delivering strong and multi-faceted portrayals to help facilitate the excellent screenplay.
The Alleys is a great thriller, telling a story that weaves complex and intelligent topics into compelling and thoroughly entertaining character arcs. There’s a lot going on in this feature, – from its ensemble cast to its interconnected plot lines to its constantly shifting tone – but it’s a testament to the talents of everyone involved that the movie is able to confidently land a tragic tale of brutal gang violence with its tongue firmly in its cheek.
The Alleys does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for The Alleys here:
Please accept YouTube cookies to play this video. By accepting you will be accessing content from YouTube, a service provided by an external third party.
If you accept this notice, your choice will be saved and the page will refresh.