This indie drama should be so much better than it actually is. An Arab-American, stuck in a rut as a valet driver for a fancy restaurant in Los Angeles, responds to both the change and stagnation he's undergoing in ways that hurt himself and others, existing in a passive netherworld between the culture and heritage of his Egyptian family, and the contradictions and disparities of contemporary America. While trying to get Namour made, Heidi Saman, in a pitch to potential Kickstarter investors, tells of several instances in which mainstream Hollywood producers told her that there isn't an interest in movies in which Arab-Americans are lead characters unless the characters are engaged in terrorism or other stereotypes. A compelling character, a potentially engaging story (obviously influenced by Taxi Driver), and some truly beautiful scenes (especially the scene in which Steven, back turned to the camera and facing the ocean at night, drunkenly sends a series of unpleasant texts to his girlfriend), revealing the complexities and humanity of a culture often reduced to a cartoonish parody: This should all add up to a great movie.
Unfortunately, the film falls short. The fault, primarily, is in the pacing. It shouldn't take 40 minutes into an 80-minute movie to establish that Steven is passive and going through a rut. Or to show that working as a valet parking the luxury vehicles of the entitled beautiful people of Los Angeles can be a degrading experience. And yet these aspects to the story are revealed in several scenes too many. Furthermore, the movie tries so hard to be subtle and understated that the point of the scenes becomes muddied. The first time this happens is in the opening scene, when, in the midst of a hectic night retrieving the parked cars, a beautiful woman tries getting Steven's attention, acting as if she wants to give him her number and go on a date. Nothing comes of it, and it's unclear why. Is the model as vapidly mean as most of the other "beautiful people" Steven interacts with? Or is Steven too passive to act? Too devoted to his girlfriend? Moments like these feel less like indie understatement, and more like amateur filmmaking, and there are enough moments like these for it to hinder the film's full potential.