THE STORY - Trapped revolves around a number of women from different walks of life whose destinies are tied together; being all under one siege. As the events unfold, their own personal stories reflect on a far bigger siege that depicts the shackles imposed by a patriarchal society.
THE CAST - Coroline Khalil, Reem Hegab, Osama Abo El Ata, Ne'ma Mohsen, Mona Mokhtar & Sara'a Jebel
THE TEAM - Manal Khaled (Director/Writer) & Rasha Kazab (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME - 96 Minutes
THE GOOD - The direction evokes an intimate and humane quality throughout, and the middle segment is a triumph of acting and storytelling.
THE BAD - The bookend segments take a while to get going, and they fail to maintain a strong narrative thrust throughout.
THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - None
THE FINAL SCORE - 6/10
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By Danilo Castro
"Trapped" finds power in the ensemble. The film chronicles the stories of women from different walks of life as they're forced into increasingly tense situations. Each character is made to confront the restrictions of the patriarchal society in which they live while holding onto their humanity and their happiness.
"Trapped" takes on a semi-anthology format, in that characters dominate the spotlight for a stretch before handing the reins off to newcomers. None of them reappear, which gives the film a strong sense of forwarding momentum and finality. The viewer is made to feel like they drop into the lives of these women, experience some crucial moments, and depart with an impressionistic sketch of who they are and what they've had to go through in the past.
The screenplay by Manal Khaled and Rasha Kazab does a notably good job of making each character feel alive, as though their stories will continue after the cameras have stopped rolling. In this sense, "Trapped" is an emotionally immersive experience. Khaled's direction has a wonderfully humane quality to it, and he prioritizes close-ups in each sequence as a means of cutting to the heart of the story. If pictures say 1,000 words, then a picture of a human face can say infinitely more.
The middle segment is the obvious highlight here. It details the tender relationship between Farah (Farah Maged), a child who's left alone when her mother goes to work; and a woman who accidentally gets locked inside Farah's apartment building. While Farah is initially (and rightfully) reluctant to let the woman inside, the two develop a bond through the doorway and throughout the night. The woman tries to get through to Farah's mother when she fails to turn up, and while the workplace claims to have no idea where she went, the woman pretends that everything is alright as a means of comforting Farah. It's a heartbreaking, humane scene that will stick with me for the foreseeable future.
What ultimately stifles the film is the inconsistency of the bookend segments. The first chapter details an unspoken relationship between a man and woman, while the third documents two women getting harassed by the military and being forced into hiding. Both have their strengths, and the climax of the third segment has a wonderfully understated quality to it. Still, they take too long to get going and wind up feeling as though they are narratively lacking (despite the abbreviated screen time).
There's a fine line between profundity and filler when it comes to character studies. With Khaled, in several instances, there are times where his desire to extract unspoken emotions from his characters falls flat. I think there could have been more in terms of plot or conversation that could have fleshed out the characters to the extent they were in the middle segment.
Maintaining a consistent tone in a quasi-anthology film can be difficult, and director Manal Khaled doesn't quite stick the landing here. Ultimately, "Trapped" is a solid movie with streaks of profundity throughout.