Arts & Culture

Netflix’s First Pan-Arab Anthology Explores Romance Tinged With Dark Comedy: Review

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Netflix’s First Pan-Arab Anthology Explores Romance Tinged With Dark Comedy: Review

Photo credit: Netflix

Love, Life & Everything in Between is Netflix’s latest pan-Arab anthology series comprising eight short films. Directed by award-winning directors and filmmakers from across the region, the series delves into different perceptions of love and relationships, with a hint of dark comedy, influenced by the characters and cultures involved.

Developed by Egyptian screenwriter, Azza Shalaby, and set to be released on 10 March 2022, the films are directed by Khairy Beshara (Egypt), Mahmoud Sabbagh (Saudi Arabia), Hany Abu-Assad and Amira Diab (Palestinian), Kaouther Ben Hania (Tunisia), Sandra Bassal (Egypt), Michel Kammoun (Lebanon), Abdulmohsen Aldhabaan (Saudi Arabia), and Hicham Lasri (Morocco).

Between romance, comedy, and drama, the show addresses financial struggles in relationships, uneven personalities between partners, self-contemplation, societal pressures and expectations, and the dilemma between conservatism and liberality, among others. With all eight stories taking place on Valentine’s Day, the series explores different interpretations of love and the complications of unique relationships.

Photo credit: Netflix

While some episodes are clear in their messaging and moral of the story, such as the ones directed by Egyptian director Sandra Bassal and Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania, others, like the episode directed by Saudi Arabia’s Abdulmohsen Aldhabaan, are left to the viewer to interpret, with intentional open endings and vague symbolism.

Photo credit: Netflix

The first episode, directed by Sandra Bassal, and the third episode, co-directed by Hany Abu-Assad and Amira Diab, are two of the strongest episodes in the series, from choice of music that heavily compliments the story’s events, to unique protagonists with multi-dimensional characteristics. The first episode revolves around a village chief who cancels his daughter’s engagement due to his belief in bad omen. The third episode tells the story of a young woman who is desperate to get married on Valentine’s Day, but ends up dealing with an unexpected twist of events.

Between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Morocco, most episodes are less than 30 minutes long, making it ideal for binge-watchers. Almost all episodes focus their scenes on the main character or characters throughout the story. Rarely do we see groups or crowds, which makes it easier to follow the main story. Whether in episode three or episode seven, the use of a gigantic teddy bear or a huge red heart was an eye-catching technique that grabbed viewer’s attention from the first few seconds.

Photo credit: Netflix

Though the central theme is love and relationships, other themes are also explored to tell multifaceted stories from the region. Those stories are often portrayed quite differently tonally: episode three by Hany Abu-Assad and Amira Diab, which is set in Palestine, is a comical one that will leave you chuckling as the events of the story unfold, while episode seven by Michel Kammoun, which is set in Beirut, has a sobering undertone.

As Netflix’s latest Arabic production, and the first one as an anthology, Love, Life & Everything in Between explores new ground as a Netflix Arabic-language production. Subbed in 33 languages, and dubbed to five languages, the show will be available in 190 countries on Netflix.

The cast includes Ahmed Ezz, Asser Yassin, Mishal Almutairi, Amer Hlehel, Shaden Kanboura, Samer Bisharat, Reem Alhabib, Nadah El Shazly, Abdelhamid Bouchnak, Elie Njeim, Dhay Alhelaly, Sami Hanafy, Salah Abdallah, Passant Shawky, Sayed El Moghazy, Nasser Akabab, Fatima Zahra Qanboua, Adham Hossam, Mourad Ghrassalli, Anissa Daoud, Alain Saadeh, and Rita Hayek.

Love, Life & Everything in Between follows the release of earlier Arabic-language Netflix Originals, including ‘Finding Ola’ (Egypt), AlRawabi School for Girls (Jordan), Paranormal (Egypt), Abla Fahita (Egypt), and Jinn (Jordan).

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A journalism graduate from the American University in Dubai who is curious, spontaneous, and often rebellious, Marina is a passionate Cairo-based journalist who aspires to become one of the most influential women in the Middle East. She likes to follow her heart and express that through words; her favorite form of expression.

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