This is a one-of-a-kind movie (almost) following a small-time crook/pizza delivery guy (Hussein) on his devoid-of-excitement journey around some densely-populated city. The guy playing him has a lot of presence (and he's really fun to watch), even though in a typical Hollywood, he would be reduced to merely a secondary character. The direction is such that you feel affinity with the main characters, and they feel as real as any movie can make them.
There's a few wonderful moments in the movie:
- The scene where our normally-sad protagonist passes time by giving pizza away, and he does this to some of his captives. That act kindness gave me warm and fuzzy feelings.
- The scene where our protagonist delivers pizza to a rich guy, who invites him to stay and enjoy the pizza with him. The motivation is that he needed to vent a bit and needed some ears for that. Hussein's unwillingness reminded me of the Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) in the classic scene of Taxi Driver, where one passenger talks about the pain of a cheating wife... well except that rich man's pain isn't quite as intense. The scene also serves to show the heavy contrast between the worlds of the rich and the poor (and you should compare rich man's place with Hussein's; it's ridiculous how the world came to be like this).
Even though almost nothing happens (at least as compared to normal Hollywood fare), the movie also covers the issue of sexual oppression, but very skillfully and subtly, and in more than one occasion. It made me appreciate some of the pleasures we have here in South Africa.
The style of this movie is very similar to that of Abbas Kiarostami (A Taste of Cherry and The Wind Will Carry Us), and that's not strange since he wrote the screenplay, and is considered by the director as his mentor. Most notable, it's far better than those two boring pieces.
sidenote: Jonathan Rosenbaum, the best movie critic I've read, has a superb and highly-detailed review. He's also the one that inspired me to watch the movie for he is a huge fan of it, to the point of labeling it a masterpiece.