2 Movies Like Both Sides of the Blade (2022)

Staff & contributors

When he’s accepted into the prestigious Islamic university Al-Azhar, fisherman’s son Adam (Tawfeek Barhom) gets an eye-opening education — but not the kind he expected. A place associated with notions of purity is imagined as a hotbed of hypocrisy and corruption here, as naive young Adam finds himself unwittingly embroiled in a state plot to seize control of Al-Azhar (because, as one government official puts it, “We can’t accept having two pharaohs in the land”). Cairo Conspiracy's intricate plot confronts monsters in government and strips away religious leaders’ veneer of divinity as a reminder that they’re merely fallible men. What's more, the film grapples with the knotty mess of politics raging inside the institution’s walls in such a way that even its palatial courtyard feels claustrophobic. Rife with paranoia and subterfuge, Cairo Conspiracy feels utterly unique thanks to this skillful transposing of the shadowy machinations of courtly intrigue dramas and '70s paranoid thrillers into a very contemporary Egyptian setting.

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Actor: Fares Fares, Jalal Altawil, Makram J. Khoury, Mehdi Dehbi, Mohammad Bakri, Sherwan Haji, Tawfeek Barhom

Director: Tarik Saleh

Dedicated to his father, director Christopher Honoré’s most recent film contemplates the loss of a parent. This endeavor is a deeply personal one. Honoré’s approach acknowledges this– he starts and interjects throughout the whole film with scenes of Lucas confessing his dark emotions. After all, losing one’s father is a difficult theme to talk about, let alone losing one who hasn’t fully expressed their acceptance of your sexuality. It’s easy for Lucas to fall into despair, but Honoré clearly respects the grief of his young protagonist. Even in Lucas’ more risky behavior, the camera is set with a non-judgmental eye. However, Honoré focuses more on hope here. The hope of familial support, of having another tomorrow, and of having a true friend… These are the hopes that await Lucas. These are the promises Honoré makes for those who lost their father.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Anne Kessler, Christophe Honoré, Juliette Binoche, Pascal Cervo, Paul Kircher, Vincent Lacoste, Wilfried Capet

Director: Christophe Honoré