With buildings built so close that there are no streets only The Alleys between them for the local residents to move around and any student at the mercy of a landlord will be only too familiar with living like this. But The Alleys is not students-ville but actually a working class residential area of Amman in Jordan where Ali (Emad Azmi) runs a small time racket steering tourists to the local nightclub where the local ladies of the night ply their trade and in turn Ali takes a payoff for the business he brings there. But its soon to get harder for him when the local racketeer Abaas (Monzer Reyahnah) takes a dislike to him and puts an end to him coming to the club – it’s one of the narrative threads that’s never really explained as Abassi is all about the money he takes form the owner.
But Abassi revelling in his position as a kind of pound shop Godfather figure who sorts out problems for favours that he will later call in. So it is Aseel (Nadira Omran) a local hairdresser and mother to Lana (Baraka Rahmani) who is secretly dating Ali and it is Mum who is far from happy about it especially when she is sent a covertly filmed clip of her daughters late night trysts with Ali. It’s Abassi she turns to asking him to put an end to Ali seeing her daughter. What it sets in motion is a series of events that involve money, murder and further blackmail mail by mobile phone movie clip.
With a narrator from the outset who is never identified until the end the film is split into five chapters – the influence of Tarantino has spread far and wide – and the small time mobsters wearing the uniform of market stall denim enforcing Abassi’s will are as unsavoury as might be expected but equally the central pair of lovers are far from endearing. The real stand out is Monzer Reyahnah as Abassi and his female sidekick Hanadi (Abd Elhadi) who are unnervingly convincing with Hanadi the real power behind the throne. Despite a few narrative threads that are never fully explained The Alleys, whilst not on a scale of the operatically epic scale and story weaving of ‘Suburra’ , is still worth a watch.
Director Bassel Ghandour chatted about the film at a BAFTA screening we attended….
Here’s the Alleys trailer……