Namour

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Namour Movie Poster Image
Indie drama about Arab-American valet has cursing, sex.
  • NR
  • 2016
  • 80 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

In subtle ways, the movie shows characters learning to persevere during the low points in life. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

No positive role models. 

Violence

While extremely drunk and very depressed, the lead character badly burns his hand after placing it into the middle of a bonfire, resulting in hospitalization.

Sex

Regular sexting between the lead character and his girlfriend, usually subtitled on the screen if not shown on the actual smartphone. While extremely drunk at a beach bonfire, the lead character texts "you wanna f--k?" to his girlfriend. A used condom is placed in the driver's seat of a valet-parked car.

Language

"F--k" used several times. "N" word word heard in a song. "S--t." "Sucks." "Son of a bitch." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink beer, wine. Cigar and hookah smoking. The lead character gets extremely drunk at a beach bonfire party, causing him to get into an argument with his girlfriend over texts, and leading him to stick his hand in a fire burning inside a metal trash can at the party, resulting in hospitalization. The lead character is paid to drive a man's car around the block of the restaurant while the man shoots up drugs in the backseat. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Namour is a 2016 indie-drama about a young Egyptian-American man feeling like his life is in a rut while working as a valet driver in Los Angeles. A used condom is placed in the driver's seat of a valet-parked car. While extremely drunk and very depressed, the lead character sticks his hand in a burning metal trash can while at a beach bon fire until his hand is burned to the point that he requires hospitalization. Regular profanity, including "f--k," and use of the "N" word in a song, and frequent sexting between the lead character and his girlfriend, culminating in him drunkenly texting "you wanna f--k?" There's beer and wine drinking, and cigar and hookah smoking. Overall, this movie, made thanks to funds raised through Kickstarter after several Hollywood producers told the filmmaker that Arab-Americans weren't interesting enough to be main characters in movies unless they were the typical stereotypes so often conveyed through media, is a thoughtful, if plodding, study of a young man trying to balance the background and culture of his Egyptian family and friends while also being the largely assimilated natural-born American citizen that he is.

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What's the story?

Steven Baseem (Karim Saleh) works as a valet driver at an upscale Los Angeles restaurant in NAMOUR. He tries balancing his life as a natural-born American with the life of his Egyptian family and friends; he's trying to maintain a relationship with his girlfriend Gabi (Melina Lizette) as much through texts as in person, while navigating the challenges of an elderly mother, a domineering sister, and those around him who also have one foot planted in their heritage and culture, while the other foot is planted in American life. On top of all this, Steven feels like he's in one of those ruts common to people in their 20s. But when his sister announces that they'll be selling the home he and his family grew up in, Steven's passive tendencies are replaced by action. However, the actions are selfish, bizarre, and destructive, the actions of someone who no longer seems to know who he is or what he wants, personally, culturally, or professionally. Steven must find a way back, to accept who he is, and persevere despite both the change and stagnation swirling inside and outside him. 

Is it any good?

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. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Arabs and Arab-Americans are portrayed in media. Namour turned to independent sources of funding such as Kickstarter after many mainstream producers told her that no one was interested in Arab-Americans as lead characters unless they had some connection to terrorism or were a comedic stereotype. How does this movie attempt to challenge these stereotypes? 

  • How is the relationship between valets and their customers shown in this movie? 

  • What are the ways in which "indie" movies are different from mainstream movies? 

Movie details

For kids who love indies and dramas

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