A Quintet – Friend Request – Sarajevo 20
Friend Request is trying to deal in the most detached way with the unsolved and crucial problems that the Middle East faces.
A Quintet (2014) is an omnibus feature film that explores the different aspects of emerging filmmakers who are living and working in countries that are different from their homes. The film had its world premiere during the 20th Sarajevo Film Festival.
Elie Lamah’s short film entitled Friend Request takes place in Berlin during the homonymous film festival. Rami (David Berton), a Lebanese director, spends his night in a bar where he meets Ayala (Maryam Zaree), a director from Israel. As expected, there is some high tension between them due to the unsolved conflicts of their countries. A walk and chat during the night will help them discover that they are not that different. Although, could they really be friends?
Friend Request is trying to deal in the most detached way with the unsolved and crucial problems that the Middle East faces. Both Rami and Ayala are forced to present themselves as typical representatives of their origins and the harder they try to do that, the easier it is to lose all those seemingly unbridged differences. Their ideas and basically their identities could easily blend and coexist with each other just as they do during that night. Unfortunately, this process of embracement goes through some cliché topics that revolve around cinema, food, and culture. This lack of any true originality could easily restrict the film into an already predictable banality.
Elie Lamah delivers a film that could be watched pleasurably but at the same time loses some of the high targets already set. Apart from the final plot twist„ which could or could not be a surprise, the rhythm and the evolvement of the film are quite predictable. For that reason there is a constant been-there-seen-that feeling while watching the characters’ discussions.
To sum up, Friend Request is a decently built short film that tries to touch on some highly sensitive issues. Despite the aforementioned problems in the storytelling, in the end the film leaves a bittersweet sense on how some unrelated factors of our personalities (like politics) could truly affect us, our thoughts, and probably our decisions on whom to consider as true friend.