Voy! Voy! Voy! will take you on a wild ride filled with laughter, scheming, and morally questionable characters. This genre-bending Egyptian film blends comedy and drama to tell the unbelievable true story of a fake blind soccer team trying to emigrate from Egypt.
At the center is Hassan, played with mischievous charm by Muhammad Farrag. He’s an ambitious young man stuck in a dead-end job, desperately seeking any way out to Europe. When he catches wind of a blind soccer team headed to Poland for a tournament, Hassan buys a pair of sunglasses and pretends to be visually impaired to join them. What follows is an escalating series of twists and turns as Hassan tries to keep the ruse going with help from the unexpectedly sympathetic coach, played by veteran comedian Bayoumi Fouad.
Alongside the laugh-out-loud humor are poignant moments highlighting the lack of opportunity facing Egyptian youth. The film asks how far we’re willing to go to change our circumstances while blurring the lines between right and wrong. Inspired by real events from 2015 involving an almost unbelievable level of deception, Voy! Voy! Voy! brings this stranger-than-fiction story to the big screen in an unforgettable blend of uplifting comedy and social commentary.
Exploring How Far We’ll Go to Change Our Circumstances
At its core, Voy! Voy! Voy! highlights the lack of opportunity and upward mobility facing Egyptian youth. Hassan and his friends are educated yet stuck – unable to find jobs that provide a hopeful future or the means to support a family. Emigration seems the only way out. As Hassan’s mother tells him, “Opportunity doesn’t knock twice for people like us.”
This desperation drives the characters to increasingly extreme actions. The film asks: What wouldn’t someone do to radically change their life circumstances? The lengths Hassan goes to in pretending to be blind reveal complex moral questions. Do the ends ever justify unethical means? Is Hassan still sympathetic given his manipulations?
Hilal refuses to paint the characters simply as heroes or villains. Their motives come from an aching need to carve out the futures denied to them. We see Hassan’s innate intelligence and drive – if only it could be directed towards legal options. The coach, too, violates ethics to give his players this one shot. Rather than passing judgement, the film makes us consider how we’d behave when trapped without options.
While played for laughs, much of the satire comes from the sad reality that this level of deception actually occurred. As such, Voy! Voy! Voy! uses its unbelievable premise to humanize struggles around migration and opportunity hoarding. The themes explored may resonate across cultures and borders, as people worldwide grapple with similar societal inequities. What wouldn’t you do to change your stars?
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A Talented Ensemble Brings the Outlandish Story to Life
The absurd premise of Voy! Voy! Voy! succeeds in large part due to the talented cast imbuing even the most questionable characters with heart and verve. Leading the charge is Muhammad Farrag as protagonist Hassan. Farrag makes us root for Hassan despite his moral failings, portraying his manipulations as driven by an environment leaving him stranded without options. We see glimmers of Hassan’s intelligence and charm, making his dead-end life all the more tragic.
Similarly, Bayoumi Fouad brings depth to the coach Captain Adel, presenting him as world-weary yet kind. Adel violates ethics to give his players a chance, and Fouad shows us the emotional toll of his own constrained circumstances. As with Hassan, if only Adel’s talents could flourish under different conditions.
The supporting cast shines as well, from Hassan’s friends echoing his desperation to Nelly Karim’s journalist Engy. Karim deftly balances conveying Engy’s growing affection for Hassan with the dawning realization she’s being duped. We can’t help but root for Engy despite knowing Hassan will likely break her heart.
Ultimately, the ensemble brings the perfect mixture of humor and pathos. As outrageous as the plot may seem, we believe in these people and the societal failures driving them to such lengths. They ground the satire in emotional realism and consequences, elevating Voy! Voy! Voy! into an unforgettable experience.
Slick Direction and Camerawork Bring the Zany Story to Life
In his feature film directorial debut, Omar Hilal proves adept at balancing tone and eliciting grounded performances. The advertising veteran’s experience directing commercials shows in his meticulous attention to detail and pacing. Hilal previously directed nearly 1,000 ads – that polish and precision shape Voy! Voy! Voy!’s crisp storytelling.
The script cracks with snappy dialogue and escalating absurdities, which Hilal ensures land with laugh-out-loud impact. Yet he also dims the vibrancy for quieter character moments. Hilal lets scenes breathe while spotlighting the cast’s pathos and chemistry. This tonal dance could easily grow messy, but Hilal juggles dexterously, establishing himself as a fresh directorial talent.
Technically, the film displays slick camerawork and lighting choices straight out of a big-budget production. The cinematography pops with color and energy or casts an emotive gloom when needed. Voy! Voy! Voy! simply looks great – you’d never guess this was Hilal’s first feature. The technical polish matches the crackling wit of the script beats for a thoroughly engaging experience.
Between the tight plotting, talented cast, and sheer directorial competence, Hilal nails this zany yet emotionally grounded film. He announces his arrival as a director able to wrangle even the most chaotic stories into poignant human packages.
Bringing Stranger-Than-Fiction Events to the Screen
The outrageous premise of Voy! Voy! Voy! comes straight from the headlines – in 2015, several members of the Egyptian National Blind Football team were exposed as fully sighted. They had infiltrated the team to travel abroad, vanish, and emigrate from Egypt through deceitful means. As director Omar Hilal said, he knew these unbelievable true events would make great comedic fodder the moment he read about them online.
The film stays faithful to the real-life facts in constructing its fake-blind-soccer-team conceit. It also nails the sheer desperation of young Egyptians seeking routes out of the country by any means necessary. However, logistical details differ – the real team traveled for goalball, not football. Additionally, Voy! Voy! Voy! creates an original protagonist in Hassan and sympathetic coach in Captain Adel rather than closely following any real figures.
Some specifics around the final emigration also shift for dramatic purposes. But at its core, the film accurately captures the absurdity that unfolded while insightfully exploring what could drive someone to such unethical actions. Voy! Voy! Voy! manages to wring plenty of humor from the ridiculous premise while respectfully humanizing the social issues at play. By turns hilarious and poignant, it’s one of those stranger-than-fiction stories made all the more unbelievable – and relatable – by its basis in reality.
An Unforgettable Crowd-Pleaser With Timely Themes
Voy! Voy! Voy! delivers an immensely entertaining blend of humor and timely social issues. Through the lens of its unbelievable true story, the film insightfully explores universal questions of opportunity, economic mobility, ethics in pursuit of a better life. Director Omar Hilal deftly balances laughter and poignancy, while the talented cast brings warmth even to less-than-honest characters.
The sheer comedic spectacle should draw crowds on entertainment value alone. But Voy! Voy! Voy! also offers resonance beyond the laughs in humanizing struggles facing Egyptian youth. The themes around migration and circumstance echo conversations currently unfolding worldwide. Hassan’s drive to radically transform his future contradicts the methods he employs, but viewers may ask themselves those same desperate questions in his shoes.
Boosted by its gripping storytelling and technical polish, Voy! Voy! Voy! announces several rising Egyptian talents in front of and behind the camera. With its crowd-pleasing sensibilities, awards attention seems destined for this funny yet thoughtful film. With any luck, Oscars acclaim could drive Voy! Voy! Voy! to reach the international audience it deserves. By turns delightful and timely, this breakthrough feature establishes a new directorial voice willing to wade through moral complexities. What seems at first to be merely outrageous entertainment reveals layered questions within us all.
Voy! Voy! Voy! Review
Voy! Voy! Voy! delivers a wildly entertaining time that also smuggles in timely themes. Director Omar Hilal sticks the landing on this zany yet insightful comedy-drama—no small feat for a debut feature. Between the escalating twists and turns and empathetic performances, the film explores ambition and ethics with energy and heart. Boosted by technical polish, Voy! Voy! Voy! announces the arrival of scintillating new directorial and acting talents. Prepare to laugh while confronting big questions about what lengths you'd go to radically change your stars.
- Talented cast gives empathetic, charismatic performances
- Muhammad Farrag is magnetic as the protagonist
- Skilled direction from debut feature director Omar Hilal
- Whip-smart dialogue and escalating absurd twists
- Technically impressive camerawork and cinematography
- Effective tonal balance between comedy and thoughtful drama
- Some supporting female characters could be more developed
- Satirical elements could come across as offensive or insensitive to some viewers
- Pacing drags slightly in the second act before the finale
- Lack of subtlety in message about economic migration