When we’re children, the world around you feels huge and scary. However, as we get older, we soon realise just how small our neighbourhood is. If you live in compact housing, there’s a reasonable chance everyone knows each other. This can be both good and bad. While communities can be great sources of support and assistance, it can be difficult to keep anything secret. In The Alleys, a clandestine love affair sparks a chain of events which will change everything.
Ali (Emad Azmi) lives in a rough and ready neighbourhood in Amman. He’s in love with Lana (Baraka Rahmani), the daughter of the local hair salon owner (Nadira Omran), but they have to keep their relationship secret. He pretends to have an important job but spends his nights hustling to make money. When they’re caught on camera, their lives are turned upside-down. Bringing him to the attention of the local protection racket run by Abbas (Monzer Reyahnah) and right-hand woman, Hanadi (Maisa Abd Elhadi).
The joy of The Alleys comes from its structure. Whilst much of the action takes place within a small area of the city, the film feels epic in scope. The myriad twisting inter-relationships draw comparisons with a Scorsese gangster film. Bassel Ghandour’s (who co-wrote the wonderful Theeb) debut feature is spellbinding crime drama. Beautifully shot, and impressively acted, The Alleys is a remarkably assured descent into the underworld.
The Alleys screens at London Film Festival.