Filmed over a five-year period, that included postpones due to production difficulties, and the 2011 Egyptian revolution, Coming Forth by day was released in 2012 to limited release, and it was finally released in 2014 to mainstream audiences. The film, which included mainly non-professional actors, is Egyptian director Hala Lotfy’s first feature-length debut. The 84-minute Drama follows a day in the gloomy, monotonous life of a middle class Egyptian family, and their journey to overcome their disappointments and eventually connect with each other. The title of the film was inspired by the Book of the Dead, an ancient Egyptian text detailing the passage of the deceased into the afterlife, and ultimately their coming forth by day.
Set mainly in an old shabby flat in Cairo, the film follows a day in the life of its main character Soad, a young woman in her late-twenties living with her two elderly parents. With the camera placed expertly in the corner of the house, it appears almost as if the viewer is spying onto the lives and daily chores of this middle-class family, the biggest chore of all being taking care of the elderly paralyzed father, and the tension his condition poses on both the mother and the daughter. The gorgeous set design gives the house a warm familiar feel, and the yellowish color palette of the film adds an almost tangible air of depression that surrounds all the characters. Despite the excellent use of light inside the house, and the mesmerizing frame composition, the film seems lost when it comes to shooting external scenes; with a certain sequence shot form a moving car guaranteed to make its viewer dizzy.
With her exceptional cinematic vision, Hala Lotfy managed to capture the boredom of her characters, and their dull daily routine with as little dialogue as possible. The complexity of the relationship between the mother and the daughter is nothing short of spellbinding, as they both feel guilty about the father yet resort to what most humans do when feeling guilty; they blame each other. The director skillfully sheds a light on the pressure imposed on families by caring for a disabled member, a subject rather common among most Egyptian households yet rarely spoken of. However, her ambitious efforts to explore the pressure imposed on older single women or ‘spinsters’ in a funny scene of a bizarre young woman who Soaad encounters as soon as she leaves the house, comes off as rather irrelevant to the moody atmosphere of the film.
The film was appraised in a number of local and international film festivals including Abu Dhabi Film Festival and Thessaloniki Film Festival, it even got included in an updated list of the 100 Best Arab films by Abu Dhabi Film Festival. Nevertheless, it’s safe to say Coming Forth by day is not a film for everybody, and if you’re irritated by slow-paced movies, then steer clear of this one. However, if you’re a lover of hypnotizing static shots, gritty realism, and complex characters; this is a unique and charming film that will definitely be appreciated as one of the best Egyptian films made in the last decade.
Rating : 7/10