Movie Review – Ali & Alia (علي وعليا)

TL;DR – A difficult film to watch at times but an interesting look at power, addiction, family, and abuse.    

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid and post-credit scene

Warning – Depicts scenes of abuse

Ali & Alia. Image Credit: Number One Films.


I had realised that my drive to experience more of world cinema has taken a back seat for a while, so today I decided to change that. More than just change that, I thought it would be best to dive into a cinema I haven’t really explored before. As if on cue, Ali & Alia appeared and well one does not look providence in the face and then blink.   

So to set the scene, we open flying through a town until we land in a football field where two sides are drawn together in opposition. On one side is Ali (Khalifa Albahri) and on the other is Aboud (Mayed al Ali). What is the fight about, well we jump back a little time and we see the start of it all. One day as Ali is escorting Alia (Neven Madi) to the local clothes shop when he is accosted by a bunch of layabouts. Instead of standing up for himself, he says nothing. This upsets Alia because he is not acting like a man. This rebuke starts a spiral in Ali’s life that affects everyone around him.

Ali & Alia. Image Credit: Number One Films.
At its core it is a look at family and its strengths and flaws. Image Credit: Number One Films.

This is a film that is a treatise on how lives can come together and how they can spiral apart. Watching someone’s life fall apart is never easy to watch even if they are more than partly responsible for the fall. As things get ripped out of Ali’s life it just creates a bigger spiral that escalates and escalates. However, the person I feel the most for is Alia, who spends a lot of the film being a pawn for angry men who can’t express themselves attention. She is then placed in a terrible position because of this through no fault of her own.

Where the film shines is in these quiet moments when family is at the heart of it. I think this is why I find Ali’s sister Shouq (Sawsan Saad) to be one of the most interesting characters in the film. She does not falter at any point in the film and becomes the rock that people’s recovery is found in. She also has some of the best lines in the film and takes no rubbish from anyone. As things fall more and more apart, especially at the end, she is the one stable part of this whole story.        

Ali & Alia. Image Credit: Number One Films.
One of the best things about the film was Shouq a truly amazing sister. Image Credit: Number One Films.

Where things don’t quite come together fell more like limitations but on this film from the outside. One area you see this is in the narrative, where there are a lot of jumps in progression. For example, Ali goes from having one beer to being a drug addict in the space of a scene. This happens throughout the film and you do feel like it could have been streamlined a little bit before rather than what we got. To add to this, it is clear that they had a really small budget, and they get a remarkable about out of it. However, you do notice at times that the dialogue has been overdubbed and does not completely sync. Also, it might be a style choice that I am not familiar with, but the music feels to almost clash with what is happening on the screen at times. It also sits in that grey area of film or advertisement in places. None of these are major issues but they do compound in places.  

In the end, do we recommend Ali & Alia? Well, it is a film exploring themes of family, masculinity, abuse, power, and addiction. This makes it both an interesting but also a hard watch at times, especially the sections of abuse that do come out of nowhere and catches you off guard. The narrative jumps will put this off for some people but I enjoyed it. If you liked Ali & Alia, I can also recommend to you Tigertail.    

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you watched Ali and Alia?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.

Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Ali and Alia
Directed by
– Hussein Alansari
Written by – Hussein Alansari
Cinematography by – Adnan Radi
Edited by – Bashar Abboud
Production/Distribution Companies – Filmed Entertainment, Number One Films,
Starring – Neven Madi, Khalifa Albahri, Jamal al Sumaiti, Talal Mahmoud, Ahmed Abdulrazzak, Budoor Mohammed, Fatima Hasan, Mohammed Almandoos, Omar Altamimi, Sawsan Saad, Sultan Salah, Hani Alghus, Mayed al Ali & Mersal Ismail  
Rating – Australia: M;


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