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110. Martyr; movie review

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Title : 110. Martyr; movie review
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Cert 18
84 mins
BBFC advice: Contains strong sex, nudity

"This feels like the final episode of a series which we haven't watched, " I mused to Mrs W as we struggled to understand what was going on during Martyr.
I concluded that background knowledge of the politics and socio-economics of Beirut was essential to enable a fuller grasp of Mazen Khaled's film.
The poster indicates that there are gay connotations to its storyline but they are only hinted at.
However, curiously, there are a couple of full-frontal nudity scenes early on, including a gratuitous scene of the film's main character (Hamza Mekdad) in a shower.
Instead, the film concentrates on the unhappiness before tragedy of Hassane, a jobless Beiruti who is forced to live with his parents, despite the inevitable tensions.
He and his friends live in the same impoverished neighbourhood and have a shared sense of boredom and desperation.
Their attempt to wash away their frustrations come on the city's rocky shore where they sunbathe and swim and watch as others take the dangerous dive into the blue waters.
They goad each other into following suit, aware that they could be risking their lives.
The remainder of the film is focused on the fall-out of responding to the dare.
If we had enjoyed more than a superficial introduction to the characters this would have been heart-stopping.
Instead, we had neither a grasp on their situations or Beirut's.
The key moment's impact was even diluted further by artistic reverie which flew over our heads.
For us, I am afraid Martyr was akin to being an interloper - watching very personal fall-out of a seismic incident without having the context or knowing the characters.

Reasons to watch: A different culture
Reasons to avoid: Needed a swathe of background knowledge

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: Yes
Nudity: Yes
Overall rating: 3/10

Did you know? 
Even before the pandemic, Lebanon's public debt-to-gross domestic product (what a country owes compared to what it produces) was the third-highest in the world; unemployment stood at 25% and nearly a third of the population was living below the poverty line.

The final word. Mazen Khaled: "In Islam, if you die at sea, you're a martyr. If you die from a very painful cancer, you're a martyr. If you die going to work to make your ends meet, you're a martyr. So, martyrdom is a lot wider. But in our world today it's becoming pointedly focused on one thing. But I would like to shed some light on the term." Eye For Film

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