Thursday, January 21, 2021

You Will Die At Twenty Review: A Powerful Film About Fate and Life

You Will Die At Twenty Movie Poster

Release date: January 22, 2021 (American Streaming Release)
Running time: 101 minutes
Starring: Mustafa Shehata, Moatasem Rashid, Islam Mubarak, Mahmoud Alsarraj, Bonna Khalid, Talal Afifi
Directed by: Amjad Abu Alala
Written by: Amjad Abu Alala, Yousef Ibrahim

You Will Die At Twenty follows a child — portended to die at age 20 — as he and his mother navigate the uncharted space between coming of age and facing the end. An exceptional story and only the eighth narrative feature film to be made in Sudan, You Will Die At Twenty follows Muzamil (played first by Moatasem Rashid then as a teen by Mustafa Shehata), whose death at age 20 is prophesied on the day of his birth by a traveling sheik. Growing up with his mother, Sakina (Islam Mubarak), in a small village under the constant loom of death, the young boy becomes increasingly curious about what it means to live beyond his mother's confines. And, encouraged by local elders, his overprotective mother relents and allows her son to study the Quran with the other children his age.  In this newly found freedom, Muzamil finds friends, enemies, love, and tempters, though what he truly seeks is a sense of the present and a chance at the future.  

You Will Die At Twenty Movie Still
You Will Die At Twenty has a somber, more serious tone to fit its subject and main story.  Muzamil must navigate his fate and the decisions that were made for his life right from his birth.  But he balances this with a desire to learn about life and the general unrest of growing up.  The film does a fantastic job of treating Muzamil as an outcast from the start.  Children refuse to play with him or call him names, and his mother dresses all in black, mourning in life the child who she expects to die shortly.  It is an interesting concept, how you treat someone who has a negative association, and one that is fascinating to explore.  

Overall the film does a great job of contrasting fate vs. life and goals.  It also shows the effect of religion in this culture and the small town.  Everyone accepts the prediction as fate and treats Muzamil as someone who is destined to die.  His own goals are basically irrelevant as no one expects him to live past twenty.  Given the subject matter of this movie, the film has some striking cinematography.  And it also has some very powerful visuals to fit the tone of the film.  There are scenes where characters essentially have visions.  The camera work in this is really something to behold, as the characters sometimes appear to be composed in biblical scenes.  They are powerful and raw and really set the tone for the seriousness of the film.  And they are accompanied by some equally powerful music that again, helps to solidify the fate of this young boy.  

However, You Will Die At Twenty is a slow film, that layers on Muzamil's character and experiences, but does so at a labored pace.  Maybe this is the result of trying to draw out his life and let him live as long as he can, but there are long stretches of this film where not a lot happens.  The movie is still an expertly constructed piece of cinema, but it might not hold everyone's interest.  But those that find this type of film interesting will be in for a real treat!

You Will Die At Twenty is a powerful piece of cinema with some expert cinematography and a story that highlights religion, fate, and life. 

Watch it.

You Will Die At Twenty Movie Still

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You Will Die At Twenty is playing in virtual cinemas across the country.  For more information and for showtimes click here.

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