The independent London newspaper

The Nile Hilton Incident is a spring-loaded thriller

Engrossing film, set against backdrop of the Arab Spring, centres on a police officer probing a crime that those in power would rather not be solved

01 March, 2018 — By Dan Carrier

Fares Fares as low-level cop Noredin Mostafa

Directed by Tarik Saleh
Certificate 15

SET in the immediate days before the Egyptian uprising, this film uses the Arab Spring as a backdrop for a hugely watchable thriller.

We meet low-level, chain-smoking police officer Noredin Mostafa (Fares Fares) on his daily rounds, taking backhanders from shopkeepers and upholding a corrupt state

He is called to a crime scene at the swanky Nile Hilton Hotel, over looking Tahrir Square. A maid has discovered the body of a woman called Lalena – but as Noredin starts investigating, it becomes clear to him that those in power would rather the crime isn’t solved.

His investigation reveals early on that a developer and MP Shafiq (Ahmed Seleem) is involved. Further enquiries suggest Lalena is a prostitute who worked with a pimp called Nagy (Hichem Yacoubi) – and they have a blackmailing scheme to take photographs of clients in compromising positions.

It sets in motion not just a brilliantly able crime tale, but brings alive their issues of life under Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

Noredin is part of a system that has been used by the government not to uphold the rule of law, but to keep a society moving along well-grooved tracks – namely, a world where decisions are made in the interests of those in power, where poverty sits next to great wealth, and where the payment of gifts are a crucial lubricant in making things happen, getting things done.

Superbly cast – Fares Fares is a marvellous, compelling lead, but is also backed by others who are utterly believable, from his slimy boss, who happens also to be his uncle, Kamal (Yasser Ali Maher) through to the Sudanese maid Salwa (Mari Malek), eking out a living in horrific poverty.

Cairo also provides a fascinating, boisterous, crazy backdrop of life in a modern cityscape. At times it feels a little like a contemporary Blade Runner, such is a urban dislocation between classes.

With elements of Scandi-noir, a sense of the style of films like The French Connection, is absolutely first-class. To think it is also based on a true story – the murder of Lebanese singer in Dubai in – gives it an extra edge.

This film, alongside others such as Clash that have considered the events of January 25, 2011, helps the viewer understand to a better degree the events that led people in Egypt to take on their government and seek a better life. Engrossing stuff.


Share this story

Post a comment