Sunday, 22 January 2017


National, indeed global, notions of politics analyzed through the individual. Macro concerns on a micro stage - Clash is a potent examination of the chaos that erupts when such complex issues are violently developed over a limited space of time. Mohamed Diab is a master of chaos, as evidenced here, from the delicate calibration of each specific ideological conflict within his ensemble of characters, to the astounding control he exerts over his mise-en-scene. The camera exclusively situated inside the hold of an overcrowded police riot van, the visual detail and variety that Diab and his DP Ahmed Gabr are able to engender within is remarkable, though it's the director's crowd control that's particularly impressive. Diab's handle over scenes of actual physical chaos has humongous force, permitting the development of a most discomfiting tension that rises to a ferocious climax; from an analytical perspective, though, it's just plain incredible. If these details have a flaw, it's that their intensity is undercut by a minor lack of believability - the one space which Diab seems to find impenetrable is the heart. He has the head, and unquestionably one's surroundings, but eliciting performances on a par with Clash's technical excellence is a difficulty throughout. The film's political and cultural knowledge is sound, though its verbal exploration of this knowledge is shaky, while clumsy, coincidence-strewn plotting does little to compliment it. Clash stays a bold, riveting political drama, though, one whose relevance has hardly diminished in the time since that which it depicts, and thus whose impact is as powerful now as it might remain in future, in a global political landscape undergoing yet more violent development.