Our second #LFF59 review coming courtesy of our Editor-in-Chief, Adam Ray Palmer’s, trip to the capital is the Lebanese feature Very Big Shot.
This 107-minute movie is the debut from Lebanese born director Mir-Jean Boo Chaaya. His film is in the official competition here at the London Film Festival.
So, will this be a laugh-out-loud crime comedy classic or a debut flop? Let us tell you…
This black comedy is about a Beirut drug dealer trying to go legit for the sake of his two brothers finding himself at odds with his crime boss.
Very Big Shot throws you straight into the action as one of the brothers, Ziad (Alain Saadeh), commits a murder with one of his siblings, Jad (Wissam Fares), taking the rap for it. Once Jad is released from prison five years later, the comedy can begin.
The language spoken is Arabic with subtitles provided but the comedy clearly translates. There is visual comedy as well as ‘banter’ and jokes. With the narrative being about three brothers working together to score a huge a drug deal by pretending to be in the film business, it has similarities to films like Get Shorty with the humour and more recently Argo for its style.
The cover story for the brothers to make their money leads to Ziad becoming a film producer, backing one of his drug clients Charbel's clichéd passion project about a forbidden love between a Muslim man and a Christian woman. The low-budget production gains notoriety and becomes a news story after accidentally starting a religious riot in the street, making Ziad into a celebrity. This sets up an interesting final act with political corruption being the climaxing scene which currently is a huge debate in Lebanon.
The performances from the main cast are enjoyable and natural but flaws are still present in the edit and writing. The film flickers between a crime drama and a comedy caper too often and therefore loses its identity as Chaaya can’t decide what film he wants it to be. You don’t know what kind of scene is coming next but not in an intriguing way. It can come across as messy at times and with a tighter edit, it doesn’t have to be like that. The film offers a good soundtrack as a sweetener though.
Movie Addicts Rating: 3 Stars
Very Big Shot will receive a limited nationwide release in selected cinemas. Certificate 15.