Boy from Heaven
On the first day back after the summer holidays, the grand imam collapses and dies in front of his students in a prestigious university in Cairo. This marks the start of a ruthless battle for influence to take his place.
“Boy from Heaven shows a rare level of philosophical engagement with the subject, something that pays off beautifully in its articulate and nuanced last act. /…/ Saleh’s film works on many more levels than sociopolitical, delivering a sophisticated adult thriller while at the same time exploring the intense psychological dynamic of the relationship between Adam and Ibrahim, who might not be as invincible as thinks he is. It’s a strange fit for Cannes, but more festival slots surely will follow — and hopefully bigger projects for this smart, stylish director.”
“Boy From Heaven marks another solid entry from writer-director Tarik Saleh, whose 2017 feature, The Nile Hilton Incident, put him on the map as a filmmaker deftly using genre to explore the tangled state of modern-day Egypt. /…/ An intriguingly damning portrait of the corruption currently hitting Egypt on all levels.”
“Tarik Saleh’s superbly realised paranoid nightmare /…/ Now in an era when the Arab spring has arguably become a bittersweet memory, he has brought to the Cannes competition this watchable conspiracy espionage-drama satirising the corruption of church and state. There’s an intriguing mix of scorn and paranoia here, together with a yearning for individual figures of decency halfway down the food chain – it reminded me of John le Carré. /…/ A bold piece of work.”
“[A] satisfying thriller. /…/ Boy From Heaven is an ambitiously complex story of religious espionage. It was conceived as a Name Of The Rose-style mystery transposed to a Muslim world, but also has much in common with Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet in its backdrop of factions and power plays and in the trajectory of its central character, from innocent greenhorn negotiating a web of alliances to jaded, compromised survivor. There’s definite commercial potential here, as evidenced by the fact that it has already sold to Picturehouse in the UK. /…/ Boy From Heaven is a handsomely shot work, with Turkey doubling persuasively for Egypt. Widescreen shots capture the sober grandeur of the institution and the tumult of the streets outside; God’s eye camera positions offer glimpses of the covert meetings and calculated campaigns of a world which is driven by the schemes and whims of powerful men.”
- Tarik Saleh