Cinema: The Cairo Conspiracy brings together all the ingredients for success

In 2017, the director Tarik Saleh, Swedish of Egyptian origin, distinguished himself with Confidential Cairoa harsh and particularly virulent thriller towards the police of President Sisi.
Only three days before the start of filming, having probably got wind of the scenario, the country’s authorities ordered Tarik Saleh to leave the territory. The film was therefore shot in Turkey and subsequently achieved great international success. Since then, the filmmaker no longer dares to set foot in Egypt where he is quite simply risking his skin.

With his latest film, The Cairo Conspiracy, also filmed in Turkey, the showdown continues between Saleh and the Sisi regime. The director, inspired according to his words by the re-reading of the rose name by Umberto Eco, imagines a police intrigue within al-Azhar University, pitting the religious authorities against the political authorities of the country.

A subtitle at the beginning of the film reminds us very briefly that this Islamic institution was founded in 972 under the Fatimids, a Shiite dynasty, and that it was only in the twelfthe century that Saladin – the man who brought about the unity of the Muslim world (second crusade) after his conquest of Egypt – made the university a center of Sunni studies. From then on, the filmmaker tells us, the Egyptian power was always careful that the political positions of the Grand Imam of al-Azhar did not contradict his own: “There cannot be two pharaohs”proclaims a character in this regard at the beginning of the film.

The story then follows Adam (Tawfeek Barhom), a son of a fisherman who received a scholarship to study at university. Shortly after his arrival, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar dies, putting his title at stake. The successor, in accordance with custom, will have to be elected from among the teachers, the sheikhs. A vote on which the government intends to act insidiously.

After spotting Adam, Colonel Ibrahim (Fares Fares, unrecognizable) instructs him to mingle with the most radical students, the Muslim Brotherhood, close to Sheikh Dourani, and to obtain information that will allow him to eliminate his candidacy. at the head of the institution, the Egyptian authorities preferring to see Sheikh Beblawi elected, openly hostile to jihad and in favor of close collaboration between spiritual power and temporal power.

Forced to submit to the demands of Colonel Ibrahim, who is by turns paternal and threatening, Adam therefore becomes, in spite of himself, a pawn on a chessboard. Politics which exceeds it. A fool’s game with the Salafists that could well cost him his life, unless of course the army turns against him first…

Spy film behind closed doors, The Cairo Conspiracy brings together all the ingredients for success: a magnificent location (the Süleymaniye mosque in Istanbul), real know-how in the composition of the frames, strong stakes, a plot rich in twists, a perfect tandem of Tawfeek Barhom (The LoomingTower, My son, Mary Magdalene) and Fares Fares who finally enjoys a role worthy of his talent. The spy story nevertheless has some inconsistencies while the plot Politics takes a convoluted journey in the last ten minutes. These, however, offer the colonel a fine scene of repentance; and Adam gets a memorable face-off with a religious luminary. A passage during which the young man can freely express himself as an equal and place the duty of truth and humility above any personal consideration relating to the designs of God.

4 out of 5 stars

Cinema: The Cairo Conspiracy brings together all the ingredients for success