Jumping a year ahead, we find Mo still injured afterwards. At a birthday party for his non-practicing Muslim best friend Sam (Amin El Gamal), Mo meets a handsome white actor named Kal (Michael Cassidy) and spends the night walking around town with him, in a series. of relaxed dialogue scenes that might have treated Richard Linklater’s “Before” trilogy as partial inspiration. Kal explains that his name comes from Superman’s original Krypton name, Kal-El, a treat that thrills Mo because he’s a huge Superman fan. There is a subtext here that is more effective at not being illuminated and turned into text: Superman himself is a story of immigrant assimilation into mainstream American life, about an exceptional individual who must keep his particularity secret in order to live a normal life.
Mosallam has a good idea of the conversational rhythms filled with dialogues and explanatory monologues – a delicate balance, not easy to achieve – and the performers are attractive and don’t overdo it. Sleiman doesn’t make the mistake of playing his character as a tasteless “Everyman” stripped of his eccentricity. The character can be neurotic and a bit manic at times, and when emotions flare up, the hero’s performance hints at Nicolas Cage’s madness. And the movie doesn’t make the mistake of turning Kal into a pin-up for some sort of abstract “all-American” type, even though the hero is initially drawn to him for those reasons. He is recovering and has a traumatic family history that comes into play.
There’s no filming or acting here, just skilled professionals taking a familiar model and doing something new. It’s a movie that proves that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to build a new road.
Now available on digital and VOD platforms.