In Season 1 of Netflix’s “Love, Life, and Everything in Between,” we learn about stories of love, complexities, and the subtleties of the Islamic notion of love. Some are fantasy-based, while others entail the absolute necessity to show a big fluffy teddy bear to embrace or the velvet hearts that reflect the impending loud desire to convey love in the physical.
The Union of Video and Filmmakers worked alongside Azza Shalaby to create this anthology of films surrounding ideas of love. “Love, Life, and Everything in Between,” Season 1 has eight short films that follow a variety of principal characters who live very ordinary lives until circumstances force them to take matters into their own hands, as we all must when the time comes. The events that develop lead to some spectacular conclusions. Some are cheerful, while others are depressing.
Major Spoilers Ahead
‘O Brother’ – Will Diab Marry His One True Love?
Sandra Bassal’s film, “O Brother,” tells the story of two brothers who quarrel to find a missing individual. Diab is an engineer who works hard to provide for his family, and his younger brother Faris arrives with the disturbing news that the village chief’s lucky charm has been missing. If someone can find it, they could be rewarded handsomely.
Faris overhears the announcement and is overjoyed because it is just what he had hoped to hear. Shorouk, the village chief’s daughter, has selected a man with little substance to marry, and everyone around her chastises her for her decision. Shorouk has a unique bond with Diab, Faris’ elder brother. Something that both of them deny. Shorouk is the village’s schoolteacher, and she also happens to be Faris’s. Shorouk knows exactly where to go for the Chief’s lucky charm when it goes missing. She starts walking in that direction.
Meanwhile, Faris is overjoyed at the prospect of his brother finally admitting his genuine feelings for Shorouk and wanting to marry her. He only wishes for a brother who looks like him. This would make his life so much easier, and his wish will be granted shortly. Shorouk notices Diab talking to Faris near the trail she’s on to reclaim her father’s fortunate charm. When Diab watches Shorouk reveal his actual feelings for her, Shorouk is hesitant to change her mind because the eve of the wedding is on the same day.
Diab manages to persuade her to change her decision. Faris planned an elaborate plot in his notebook for Samah, a calf, and the Chief’s lucky charm, to be carried to a secret spot for Shorouk and Diab to cross paths. She shows Diab how brilliant his brother is. Eventually, Shorouk confesses her love for Diab. Writer Rafik Morkos brings to us a twist where she changes her mind on the day of her betrothal to someone else. Diab and Shorouk later marry, giving Faris a younger sibling whom he adores. Faris anticipates his brother’s happy ending and provides for his own family in the greatest way, further adding to his idea of the greater good.
‘Al- A’sha’ – Can Sultan Bring Order To The Chaos In His World?
Director Abdulmohsen Aldhabaan collaborates with writer Mohammed Alhamoud to tell a narrative about a man who goes about his business, unwittingly drawing mayhem wherever he goes. Unbeknownst to him, he is trying to make sense of simple things in his life, such as how to tell the woman he is dating that the relationship they share is going nowhere.
Salma is a well-known psychiatrist who is shown discussing with a client the chaos that comes with dating a man she was once oddly drawn to but no longer is. Nothing seems to go right while she’s with him, which frustrates her. Sultan is on his way to see Salma for a date. His phone rings on the way, and he hits someone on the road while driving. Sultan pauses to answer the phone, which appears to be inconsequential, as the person on the other end of the line was a wrong number calling. He waits anxiously, then continues driving on as if nothing had occurred.
When he visits a flower shop, he discovers that all of the red roses have been taken. He comes up with the idea of painting the white roses crimson so that Salma can sense Sultan’s loving gesture. Meanwhile, Salma is slowly growing anxious at the prospect of having to meet Sultan. She pays attention to her reminder when it informs her about her meeting with Sultan. Sultan is stopped by the police on his way to Salma to have his car and license with registration checked. When the police officer goes away with his documents, Sultan nervously drives away. Both Salma and Sultan practice how to break up with each other in the restaurant prior to seeing each other.
At the table, Sultan is the first to break the news, explaining that he is unable to continue the relationship. Salma is enraged, and she goes out in a rage. Salma felt obligated to express her dissatisfaction since she had never understood Sultan and Sultan had never understood Salma. Sultan may be suffering from night blindness, according to the filmmakers, who mention this in a poem at the very beginning of “Al- A’sha” through a verse of poetry. The ability to not see things well when the entire movie is filmed at night. This is an amusing parallel because Salma is a psychiatrist who can’t seem to find the patience to figure it out.
While Salma and Sultan are splitting up towards the end, Sultan has two mystery visitors arrive. The first is the police officer from whom he drove away, and the second is the man he knocked over just a few hours before. A black dog seems to pummel Sultan as Salma finally exits, completely agitated. This appears to be a reference to how the makers of the short film inform us at the start of “Al- A’sha” that a man’s heart suffers for how misunderstood he is, attracting plagues of misfortune, and having a condition known as night blindness. The woes of the world seemed to hunt an innocent Sultan, and the black dog served as the last omen.
‘Kazoz’ – Will Labib Meet His Groom At The Wedding Aisle?
Amira Diab directed and co-wrote “Kazoz” with Hany Abu-Assad, which tells the story of a bridegroom who rides a miniature motorcycle through the Jerusalem-Jericho road with a large red teddy bear. It’s a long, winding route, and a car isn’t the best mode of transportation for this journey. Both sides must wait till he arrives and joins his wife in the aisle because that is all he has.
The Bride is waiting for her Groom when her sister approaches her to criticize her for having to wait so long. The Bride’s brother-in-law is overjoyed that his house will now be quiet, free of the constant arguing that the sisters used to engage in. He is a cunning and astute businessman who manages to sway two miserly sheikhs from his town. The soda supplier arrives to deliver over perhaps old beverages to the businessman, who is hesitant to accept them, but they eventually come to a deal.
While the Bride waits for Labib, the bridegroom arrives at a traffic checkpoint. When he is unable to hear the police asking him to halt, they fire at him, knocking him to the ground unconscious. The Groom’s phone begins to ring, and the cops answer it to inform the Bride that he has died.
The party quickly transforms into a funeral procession. They make him a martyr, and the businessman must swiftly show respect and transform the situation into Labib’s Memoriam. Meanwhile, on the road, Labib gently opens his eyes and discovers the blood on his collar. He takes out his phone and dials his Bride’s number. She discovers he is still alive, and circumstances change. While the Groom’s brother-in-law is trying to figure out how to compensate the soda vendor after making Labib a martyr for Palestine after discovering he is alive and has been resurrected as a savior, he tells the soda vendor to return the coffee since Allah will not be so forgiving.
However, the soda vendor triumphs when he admits that the Gods above will doom him regardless if the soda cannot return with him, and he accepts the coffee. We arrive at the finish when the Groom rides into the evening to finally reach the aisle, terribly exhausted and flies unconscious upon the Bride’s lap. The bridegroom Labib gets the short end of the stick throughout this entire Valentine’s Day wedding party, and the Bride never gets to see her gorgeous crimson Valentine wedding. For all people concerned, it was a painful and unsettling conclusion. Both the businessman and his wife, the Bride’s sister, take a sip of the soda and realize it’s undrinkable, let alone worth selling.
‘Baby Doll And Lamb Chops’ – Hamda Succumbs To An Uncertain Future.
Tunisian director Koather Ben Hania, winner of the Venice Film Festival’s Edipo award, tells the story of a meat trader named Hamda and his struggles. Hamda must find a method to compensate his staff, who have grown tired of working without pay and have decided to hang themselves while live-streaming it on Instagram but do not do so.
It’s Valentine’s Day, and Hamda wants to give his wife some extremely nice lingerie, but he doesn’t have the money. When his employees start to worry about their pay, a money lender shows up to seize Hamda’s goats because he hasn’t paid back the loan promptly. Because of the existing conditions, Hamda is forced to write a money order for the three months that the Financial Administrator, Farid, owes him. When Farid eventually meets him, he informs Hamda that his Draft order is not specific about what kind of meat he sells.
Hamda is in a difficult situation and must prepare a perfect money order in time to deliver it. She needed to get to the bank by 4 p.m. to encash it before it shuts. Mouldi, the Admin’s assistant, is Hamda’s only friend, and Hamda tries to persuade him to see the Administrator again when he inadvertently comes into a situation where the Administrator’s affair is discovered by his wife.
After considerable difficulty, Hamda meets the Administrator, and he writes the check, but it is given to Mouldi for safety. Mouldi asks for a load from Hamda. He scrambles to find the Traffic police, who have his tires locked because he is unlawfully parked there. Because Hamda was able to secure an audience with the Admin thanks to Mouldi, Mouldi recalls that if Hamda keeps his end of the bargain, he might be able to borrow some money if he encashes the check. Hamda has a hard time with this, but he attempts to maintain his word. Hamda secures a hundred dinars for himself after slyly conspiring against a restaurant.
During this exhausting ordeal, he must make it to the bank on time while battling traffic and Mouldi’s suspicions about Hamda after he stops at a lingerie store to pick up a Valentine’s Day gift for his wife. Mouldi and Hamda arrive at the bank, which will close in two minutes. A desperate Hamda becomes agitated. With his optimism shattered as the bank shutters come down, Hamda engages in a tussle with Mouldi over the check, which Mouldi wants to return to the office while Hamda needs to keep since he needs to cash it the next day. This squabble results in the cheque being torn, making a stressful moment.
Hamda accepts his loss and knows that there is no way out of his predicament and that there is no silver lining. He hands over the red lingerie to Mouldi, who admits he was merely looking for something for his wife. Hamda receives a video message from his wife, informing him that she had already received all she had requested and that all she wanted for dinner was Lamb chops. Hamda is back to square one and places the lamb chops in the red-shaped box, giving a meal to his wife at the end of the short film. “Baby Doll And Lamb Chops” ends on a somber note while observing a fast-paced, thrilling adventure that Hamda endures beating the odds.
‘National Day Of Mourning In Mexico’ – Can Hassan Influence The Law To Uphold Love?
In a parallel universe, Egyptian director Khairy Beshara collaborates with writer Nura Elsheikh to create a visual narrative that explores love and the influence of law. You’d chuckle at the prospect of it becoming a reality, but given the current state of affairs, there’s a good chance it will. With moral policing coming in and trying to find high ground, this filmmaker and writer duo aim to build a sense of humor around a hero who saves his fiancée from the Love Prohibition Police.
The Supreme Court of the Republic of South Asia issued an order prohibiting the concept of love throughout the city of New Buzz, the capital of the Republic of South Asia. Poetry is forbidden, as is the color red. Red clothes might land you in jail for up to three years, and if you drive a red car, you could be blown up on the spot or imprisoned for the rest of your life. The Love Prohibition Police would monitor and make rounds to ensure that no one was celebrating Valentine’s Day on the road. If a high heart rate was detected by their monitor, it meant you were in love and would be imprisoned. You’d get arrested if your clothes were red. And Hassan Moftah, a radio DJ at New Buzz Radio station 70.7 FM, would have his day turned entirely upside down on this particular day.
Hassan Moftah has a following of faithful listeners, and he preaches and follows the present law that governs the city. While remaining law-abiding, his fiancée Leila takes matters into her own hands. On Valentine’s Day, she decides to visit Hassan’s studio leading to unforeseen circumstances. Hassan’s sister, Leila, and Hassan’s sister, Amina, do not get along, but Hassan keeps the boat afloat. Amina is dating Ali, a cop who took her off at her brother’s studio because she also provides her voice to the station.
Hassan has no idea what Leila is planning. Soon she confronts Hassan, asking why he is now abiding by the law after he had previously expressed his love for her. She then removes her coat, revealing a crimson dress, and proceeds to dance. Amina notices this and informs the Love Prohibition Police, who apprehend Leila and her companion for throwing red balloons into the air.
After calling Ali to try to utilize an inside influence and have him set her free, Hassan begins to question the law’s legitimacy due to current events. Hassan is left with no options after Ali refuses to comply. Hassan, on the other hand, does not give up and summons his companion Amina, who is dressed in a wig and mustache to imitate a man, to accompany him on the dangerous adventure.
When he and Amina go to an illegal underground Lovers’ habitat in a certain location, he starts to experience the pangs of love. Everyone wears a rose, and these two eventually meet Roah, the leader of the underground network. Hassan is sleuthing around to ensure he doesn’t reveal his true identity until he sees his sister’s boyfriend Ali there. Roah is a seductress who maintains this habitat. For the Valentine’s Day party, Ali was perfectly dressed. Hassan begins to sarcastically jostle him, which eventually reveals his true identity, and Hassan and Amina try to flee. Hassan makes his getaway with a teddy bear and a large red banner.
As ‘National Day Of Mourning In Mexico’ nears its conclusion, Hassan stuffs the red teddy bear into his sister’s bag as a form of retaliation for having his fiancée arrested. He executes his plan once she has left. He drapes the red-colored banner from his window, along a few levels below from his floor, and it draws a lot of attention. He quickly begins to speak on the microphone about the importance of love in the world. He recites a verse after his first love, Leila, published his poetry. The makers end ‘National Day Of Mourning In Mexico’ with a heartening scene in which the Love Prohibition Agency becomes the Love Promotion Agency, and Leila is liberated to be reunited with Hassan. A poignant end to a painful struggle.
‘Glitch Love’ – Will Ward Record Her Song Despite The Circumstances?
Mahmoud Sabbagh, the director, and writer, have created a short film about the adventure of an odd sound engineer when he meets a Pop sensation who reluctantly works with him as her producer had told to do so. She needs to record an urgent vocal piece, which necessitates a trip to this engineer’s studio in a dark and gloomy town. This opens up a whole new avenue for her and the engineer, and they get to know each other better.
Shibrein, our protagonist, is an elderly sound engineer who has worked with all of the industry’s great names. He is due to meet the same artist who is portrayed on a standee in his studio, which is something he does not expect. She is a Saudi Pop Star named Ward. His neighbors tease him since he doesn’t speak and has had severe eye surgery to replace his eyes, which are still sensitive to light. Even at night, he wears sunglasses, giving him an unusual appearance.
The first time Ward meets Shibrien, there is obvious tension. As time passes, Ward becomes frantic because she needs an Apple charger to go live with her fans. She leaves the studio agitated. When she is mishandled by a man after walking out on the engineer, she walks around lost and eventually finds Shibrein, who is also looking for her. He attempts to alter the wiring at the town’s central wiring station. He is successful in making a charger for her Apple phone, which she plugs into her phone. A short circuit occurs as a result of the connection, and the entire town’s electricity goes out.
As a result, she is forced to wait in the scorching heat. When she discovers that this is not a small-time studio, but one with a good reputation, he starts talking with her, and she begins to feel more at ease. She considers whether the recording is required and ultimately decides against it. Shibrein asks Ward to eat breakfast with him in the morning so that no one makes fun of him when she is with him at the end of “Glitch Love.” She comes to grips with her temperament, realizing that the love she showers on everyone else is a decision she can make or not, and she decides to depart at first light. She takes one last look at Shibrein, bidding a quiet farewell.
‘The Big Red Heart’ – Will The Big Red Heart Be Delivered To Its Destination?
Michael Kammoun, the director and writer, creates a unique visual narrative about the delivery of a stuffed heart toy that travels throughout the city. A man in deep love with a lady who no longer sees him in the same light yearns to express his love in the most extravagant way. Unfortunately, a delivery man faces numerous challenges when the giant fluffy heart must be delivered on time to the correct recipient while also avoiding a producer who wants to use the fluffy heart for his photoshoot.
“The Big Red Heart” opens with a man rushing into a store, trying to figure out what to get his Valentine. He rummages through the store until he finds a massive red fluffy heart. He pays for it and has it delivered by the shop owner. The delivery man has no idea what is in store for him.
The delivery man has roped the six-foot-wide fluffy heart toy securely onto his motorcycle. The wind lifts the toy, and it vanishes while traveling along the highway. The delivery man suddenly feels frightened because he can’t find where the heart has gone. He finally walks down to the road and asks everyone if they have seen a big heart toy, which has now been safely placed in the back of a jeep. The Deliveryman pursues the automobile until he spots two men carrying it up a staircase.
This staircase is the studio of a producer, whose goons have kidnapped this delivery man’s heart and utilized it for their gain, but he overcomes this obstacle by hiding it. After eluding the producer, the delivery man pulls the large toy heart from a water tank (before they take him) and decides to ride a roller coaster to dry it in the sun. He resumes his route to the spot where he must make this delivery. He’s wary of the situations he finds himself in and wants to get rid of them as soon as possible.
Finally, he makes the delivery only to discover that the person to whom he is delivering the heart is the customer’s ex-lover and that she never wanted the package in the first place. The customer returns to the same spot, pleading with the woman to take the package as a gesture of his affection. The Deliveryman notices the customer’s fascination with this woman, which leads to rage, and the man stabs the big toy heart, rendering all of the delivery guy’s difficulties in vain. The delivery man returns to the business with a stabbed stuffed toy heart that no longer has a home.
‘Sidi Valentine’ – Will Lofti Ever Retrieve The Car He Lost?
‘Sidi Valentine’ is a short film about a car driver who believes his life may transform at the snap of his finger. When it happens, his self-assurance is broken, and a woman steps in to help, but she is in the wrong company. Things go wrong, and neither of them can turn back.
Lofti is driving a vehicle with a child in the backseat. His father told him as a child that he would grow up to be a true man. His ego, on the other hand, believes that the sky’s the limit. When he leaves the car sitting on the side of the road with a youngster in it to go into a store at the start of the movie, his chauvinistic attitude leads him into trouble.
Attracted to this woman, he lets the lady behind him get first preference. Nada feels drawn to Lofti, and things quickly change. Nada realizes Lofti’s automobile has vanished as he becomes enraged with the man sitting beside the road, who is meant to keep an eye on the road and the car’s safety.
Things get complicated when they try to trace the automobile by driving in Nada’s car and come across someone who says the car might be in a parking area where violent gang members lurk. They halt in a wealthy neighborhood when Nada is driving through it with Lofti virtually in circles. When they stop to realize they are lost, a crazed man turns up and stabs all four tires and the top hood of the car. This agitates them both, so Nada summons a tow truck to pull them out. When the tow truck arrives, they make their way out, only to see a life-size red Teddy bear on the ground. The tow driver suggests the Teddy Bear is a perfect peace offering to Gorbachev, the man who possibly is in possession of Loft’s car.
Both Nada and Lofti get apprehensive since all roads lead to Gorbachev, the leader of a criminal organization. While Lofti is attempting to reach an agreement with Gorbachev, Nada discovers the truth about Lofti. Lofti is merely the car driver, and the child inside is the offspring of his boss. Unbeknownst to Lofti, things quickly deteriorate as the teddy bear rises and gives the green light for the authorities to emerge from hiding and arrest everyone in the parking lot, including Gorbachev, his buddies, Nada, and Lofti.
We see a heartbreaking finale in total turmoil near the end, with Nada being the only innocent person left to pick up the pieces, both emotionally and physically. Hicham Lasri, a Moroccan filmmaker, creates a natural bias towards Nada’s dissatisfaction with Lofti, as she finds herself in a complex scenario with a bitter ending. Unfortunately, not all love stories have happy endings, which is something even Loft agrees to, towards the very end.
The Union of Video and Filmmakers presents a unique anthology of short films by filmmakers from all across Asia that focus on portraying beautiful love stories. With a medium like a film, creators may take a more liberal approach to love, as complex as it is. There appears to be more pressure in a visual narrative and short film format, with more options that they explore, never failing to disengage our sight and offering a wholesome experience. It satisfies you on both a spiritual and mental level.
Love, Life, And Everything In Between is a 2022 anthology series directed by directors from all across Asia.