Nadine Labaki co-stars with Fanny Ardant in 'Back to Alexandria' (2023)

Nadine Labaki and Fanny Ardant Star in Tamer Ruggli's Back to Alexandria وحشتيني

Film Review by Dr. Ramzi Salti

Stanford University


In Tamer Ruggli's Back to Alexandria, the audience is invited on an emotionally charged odyssey through the vibrant landscapes of Egypt, exploring themes of reconciliation, nostalgia, and the empowering journey of self-discovery. The film follows Sue, portrayed with depth and nuance by Nadine Labaki, as she returns to her native Egypt after an absence of two decades, seeking to reconnect with her ailing mother, Fairouz (Fanny Ardant).

Ruggli weaves a compelling narrative that traverses the bustling streets of Cairo to the enchanting vistas of Alexandria. The visual storytelling captures the essence of Egypt, using its cultural richness to mirror the complexities of Sue's emotional journey. The cinematography, coupled with a soulful musical score, creates an immersive experience that resonates with the audience.

Back to Alexandria film trailer

The international ensemble cast, including French actress Fanny Ardant, Swiss actors Manuela Biedermann and Laurent Deshusses, and Egyptian talents like Laila Ezz El Arab, Hany Adel, Karima Mansour, Hazem Ehab, and Salwa Othman, adds layers to the film's emotional depth. Each actor brings authenticity to their characters, contributing to the film's exploration of family dynamics and personal growth.

While Tamer Ruggli takes the directorial helm, it's worth noting the connection to Nadine Labaki in the film's promotional context. Labaki's prior cinematic achievements, such as "Caramel," "Where Do We Go Now?," and "Capernaum," have set a high standard for emotionally resonant storytelling, and this association may raise expectations for a similar emotional depth in "Back to Alexandria."

The narrative unfolds as Sue grapples with distant memories, mixed feelings about her past, and the eccentricities of her mother. Ruggli skillfully navigates the complexities of Sue's emotional terrain, making her journey a universal exploration of identity and empowerment through confronting one's history.

As the film is set to grace the Cairo International Film Festival, Ruggli's "Back to Alexandria" promises to be a poignant addition to the cinematic landscape. The movie's portrayal of Sue's transformative journey and the nuanced performances of the cast contribute to its potential impact. "Back to Alexandria" stands as a testament to the power of storytelling in cinema, offering audiences a heartfelt narrative that resonates with themes of family, homecoming, and the strength found in embracing one's past.

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