Film Review: The Nile Hilton Incident

Tarik Saleh’s The Nile Hilton Incident is a classic noir with a political twist. The film feels very contemporary, whilst adhering to the conventions of the genre.

Police detective Noredin is tasked with investigating a murder that took place in a hotel room. His bosses seem eager to shut down the investigation, whilst the one witness has gone into hiding…

Written and directed by Tarik Saleh, The Nile Hilton Incident is a detective story with noir overtones. The film combines a film noir narrative with recent political activity in Egypt. This works well; the film offers a story which is unique to the country whilst adhering to genre tropes.

The noir conventions are all here, not least with the choice of protagonist. Noredin is the classic noir protagonist; he is a chain-smoking, hard-boiled detective. He is also a well-written character. Noredin takes on an antihero role; a detective not adverse to bungs who nevertheless seeks justice. Saleh’s screenplay is great; there is humour to be found, as well as conversations which seem realistic.

The Nile Hilton Incident‘s narrative begins in a conventional way. Where the film distinguishes itself is in its focus on corruption. Whilst often a trope in film noir, here this theme comes into its own. Corruption operates in both a personal and systemic way. Even Noredin is part of this, although a line becomes more distinguishable as the film progresses.  In the latter half of the film, the political climate in Cairo comes into prominence. It works well that the narrative ties into this, although the film would have benefited from creating more tension from this powder keg.

Fares Fares delivers a strong performance as Noredin. Production values are good overall, with the film exemplifying the sweltering city setting to tie in with noir tropes. The Nile Hilton Incident is a great example of transplanting a distinct genre in a way that is both traditional and resonant with current affairs.

The Nile Hilton Incident is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2017.

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