The first feature film by Emirati filmmaker Majid Al Ansari and produced by Image Nation Abu Dhabi, ‘Zinzana’ is a thrill ride from the very first frame.
Waking up in a jail cell for getting into a fight the night before, Talal (Saleh Bakri) pleads to the warden to set him free. Since he has lost his wallet and has no I.D. or money for bail, only a judge can decide his fate, which may take up to 48 hours. This is when the quirky maniacal Dbaan (Ali Suliman) enters the station impersonating a police officer. After murdering the warden, Dbaan soon establishes himself as the man in charge and begins a cat-and-mouse game of life and death odds with a confused Talal.
With the entire movie taking place inside the one room in the station, Majid Al Ansari has managed to craft a film that doesn’t feel repetitive. There are shots so creative, the audience is taken through walls, pipes in the ceiling and even up into the sky for a satellite view of the area. The camera angles, which continually shift from close-ups to medium long shots works well, possibly done to show one’s despair and the other’s psychotic lunacy.
The two leads are impeccable in their respective roles, but it is Ali Suliman (Dbaan) who truly steals the show. His motives or agenda are never made clear until the very end of the movie. His cartoonish antics continually shift from quirky dance routines, to tempting Talal to have a drink, and even solving a puzzle in a Sherlock Homes style manner. His is a character that is complex and can either be classified as a genius or a lunatic. Saleh Bakri (Talal) is the complete opposite to Suliman’s Dbaan, with a more reserved performance of his anguish. He is not only dealing with troubled personal issues, but also a mad man who is continually poking into his psyche and wrapping him around his fingers. The sweet natured female deputy Aida (Yasa) continually drops in to provide some comic relief to the surmounting tension, and her innocence is a breath of fresh air.
Al Ansari manages to set a steady momentum throughout the 90 minute runtime, and constant attention is paid to where the characters are both physically and emotionally during the film. For a one-set neo-noir thriller film, Zinzana may possibly mark the United Arab Emirates’ cinematic entry to a global audience.