Director Mazen Khaled, who was born in Beirut, Lebanon, has shot a film in his hometown that deals with the importance of friendship, in a film that resonates powerfully in its short 85 minutes.
Hassane (Hamza Mekdad) lives with his parents in a small apartment in a not so wealthy area of Beirut. He has no job to go to, and his parents keep on nagging him to get one. He is a procrastinator – and he enjoys spending days hanging out with his friends along the rocky city coastline along the Mediterranean Sea. Him and all his friends share a similar look (dark hair, fair skin, handsome), and they all love sitting around doing nothing all day. When some start diving off the edge into the rocky waters below, Hassane, while not a confident diver, takes a leap, and it’s a leap that costs him his life. It’s at this point that the melancholy of lounging around is over as ‘Martyr’ takes a dark turn when Hassane’s friends have to deal with the reality of the situation, and worse, take his body, by taxi, to his home. Then the grieving accelerates, especially for his dear mother (Carol Abboud), who can’t accept that her dear son has died.
Khaled masterfully captures the friendship, brotherhood, and love Hassane shares with his friends. There is also a touch of homoeroticism as Director Khaled vividly films lingering body shot, while the men are not afraid to touch each other which is customary in their culture. And at the end, in a death ritual, his friends bathe him to get him ready for his final journey. Powerful stuff.
‘Martyr’ premiered on Curzon Home Cinema on 12th March and was followed on all other digital platforms, as well as DVD, from 22nd March.
Review by Tim Baros