Film Review "City of Life"

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The main theme of the film City of Life presents the three parallel stories of human life in a big city of Dubai: an honored and spoiled young man, named as Faisal from a wealthy family that breaks his father’s expectations; an Indian taxi driver Basu disappointed in own dreams; and a simple-hearted flight attendant, a Romanian emigrant, searching for a combination of love and money. All of them have a diverse and cultural arabesque way of life.

An outstanding filmmaker and the United Arab Emirates’ producer Ali E. Mostafa shows real creativity of the production process. This fantastic film, produced and shot in the UAE during five weeks, gives to the audience not only comprehension about Eastern culture and traditions, but also joy of wonderful shooting, showing to us how people pursued their ambitions, inspirations and dreams in show business.

The multi-lingual film City of Life featured in 2009 year, took about three years of producer’s hard work (See picture 1). This picture presents a bulk of international TV stars such as a Romanian actress, Alexandra Maria Lara, British actors – Jason Flemyng, Natalie Dormer and Susan George, an Egyptian-American comic Ahmed Ahmed, the UAE actors – Saoud Al Kaabi and Habib Ghuloom, a Northern Indian actor Sonu Sood and an Indian actor Jaaved Jafferi; all of them are talented and generous actors (“City of life”, 2009).

Viewers may admire with delightful special effects in the film. Special effects handled successfully and they are indeed essential to the plot serving a necessary function. The characters in the film – Faisal, Khalfan, Basu, Natalie, Olga and Guy – are believable. It is not a bibliographical story, but based on true experience reflecting on heritage, culture and rich people. City of Life shows positives and negatives of the city; it has no artificial place, only real people with their typical problems. Ali Mostafa changed global perception of Dubai put in the same line with London and New York (“Review: The City of Life by Ali E. Mostafa”, 2010).

This cinematographic work introduces a mixture of genres of drama and tragedy, whereas the best Emirati producer creates a special genre, so-called “dramedy”. A film subject matter is “very regionally specific” and film producer stresses that it is a “historical biopic epic” (Ritman, 2011).

Cinema is not only entertainment but also a language of Dubai City. Fascinating side effects, great crash and burning of a car, a lot of fighting scenes concentrated there in the film. City of Life captured in three languages: Arabic, Hindi and English; focuses on forbidden topics such as sex out of marriage, abortion, alcohol and bands that considered taboos in the UAE.

Despite of men’s fighting, aggressiveness and hot temper film has romantic motives of love, as we can see between stewardess Natalia and Guy. Male’s characters are passionate and active; female ones are not, they are sweet and tender. This film is very touching and fascinating, having a tremendous success in Arabic Emirates, and is really worth seeing.

Cinematography in the film is unusually remarkable. The music is suitable and functional having impressive soundtrack. Camera angles are used in effective and virtual manner. The film enhances the theme with a help of the particular color, texture and arrangement of lights. The setting and locale are featured very successfully in the picture. Skipping from one scene to another makes City of Life interesting and amusing.

Introducing symbolism is a key component of above-mentioned film. In my opinion, it embodied in dreams of heroes striving themselves for perfection. For example, Natalia has a dream of being a ballet dancer, Basu dreams of becoming a popular Bollywood film star; Faisal has a strong desire to be independent of his father. All of these symbols served as effective purpose in the film. That is why, this symbolism enhances the film’s overall idea. 

In conclusion, we may say that City of Life bears a pulsating character, presenting random interactions of its heroes and how they impact on each other’s lives in consequence. This well-produced film is about searching itself.  It is not theoretical, but a practical movie, when all impossible becomes possible to happen. Emirati director portrays real Dubai in a sensitive way. Award-winning film presents intersection with young and old generation, poverty of laborers and prosperity of rich people, tracing the different experience of native citizens and emigrants. Moreover, in the analyzed cinematography work, the traditional ways and contemporary lifestyles meet at the crossroads between East and West: for example, as we can see in national clothes that film characters wear, presenting to viewer an Eastern culture, as well.

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