‘Love Radio’: Overly Americanized and predictable

Director Ahmed Samir Farag’s latest film, “Izaeit Hob” (Love Radio), takes its name after a youth radio program called “Dr. Love,” an adaptation of the famous radio show by Osama Mounir.

Meant to be a romantic comedy that utilizes a radio program as a means of exploring a relationship unfolding between a young couple, the film's plot remains superficial and alien to Egyptian audiences.

Hassan (Sherif Salama) and Laila (Menna Shalaby), who both work at the station, are timid characters who act otherwise and hook up in a local bar. As events unfold, viewers feel like they’re watching a typical American teen movie, with little effort by screenwriter Mohamed Nayer to adapt it to the local context.

Hassan hangs out in Cairo’s pubs hoping to meet girls; his main pickup line is “I think we’ve met before in Toshka.”

But, there’s a difference between being shy and being stupid, and Hassan simply comes off as the latter – Toshka is a massive land reclamation project in the Western Desert. Emotional vulnerability and frequent breakups do not justify Laila being a low-life. Her life revolves around drinking at pubs, desperate to find a man to love or marry. The very idea of going to pubs to hook up with a significant other is purely Western, and reflects the lifestyle of a miniscule segment of Egyptian youth who live in the upper crust of society.

The rest of the plot is highly predictable, as Hassan – playing the typical nice guy – has a diabolical friend Bimbim, who takes him to bars all the time and has a submissive girlfriend that he's been dating for years but has never asked to marry.

Being a low-budget film doesn’t justify its poor direction; beer and detergent advertisements blatantly visible throughout the film come to mind. The plot is so based on the protagonists being drunk that the audience inevitably comes to detest them and loses sight of any message the film may have had.

The dialogue is no better, relying on overused, prosaic gags that make it difficult to follow a conversation. In the case of Bimbim's girlfriend (Mona Hala), for instance, she stands quietly in most scenes as Bimbim faces the camera and rattles off random jokes.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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