HomeFilm'Shall I Compare You to a Summer's Day?' DVD review

‘Shall I Compare You to a Summer’s Day?’ DVD review

Egyptian film-maker Mohammad Shawky Hassan takes loose inspiration from William Shakespeare’s well-known ‘Sonnet 18’ to provide a look at the lives of a group of gay Arab men in his new film ‘Shall I Compare You to a Summer’s Day?’. Stringing together a series of stories that explain how the men come into each other’s lives, and beds, the film is an experimental effort that shines a light on a part of gay culture we don’t get to see too often.

Split into a number of different short stories, the film explores a relationship that begins between an Egyptian man and a Latin American man after they meet in a club. After having sex, the two men begin to reveal stories about their love lives and it soon becomes apparent the two men are very different. One has had a series of lovers, sometimes at the same time, while the other is still discovering himself and his sexuality. Can the two men build a lasting relationship or will their differences tear them apart?

Shall I Compare You to a Summer's Day?
Credit: TLA Releasing

The answer is fairly abstract with Hassan making the audience fill in a lot of the blanks. The film’s experimental narrative feel doesn’t easily lend itself to cohesion so much of what transpires on screen is left to your own interpretation. Between highly sexualised moments of group sex and one-on-one intimacy, there are unexpected bursts of song and a female narrator that seems to convey a lot more optimism than the men who we see interacting during the shorts.

It’s hard to really discern what the message is here. The juxtaposition between the voiceover and the action that plays out onscreen suggests two completely different things – are we to assume that gay men can’t settle into a committed, and some may say ‘hetero-normative’ relationship or is Hassan saying that relationships between men are more fluid and nuanced than those between men and women? Or is the suggestion here that gay men fall into two categories – those who lean towards polyamory and those who want to find the one they’ll spend the rest of their life with?

Shall I Compare You to a Summer's Day?
Credit: TLA Releasing

‘Shall I Compare You to a Summer’s Day?’ is undeniably visually interesting and it’s a bold piece of work from Hassan. That having being said, it’s not easily accessible to everyone and it’ll likely appeal mostly to those who love avant-garde and art-house cinema. Without a clear narrative structure, and with characters that don’t feel developed enough to be relatable, the film struggles to connect with its audience. Still, Hassan shines a spotlight on gay Arab culture that isn’t often depicted on film and for that alone, it’s worthy of your attention.

Shall I Compare You to a Summer's Day?
Credit: TLA Releasing

Cast: Donia Massoud, Ahmed El Gendy, Salim Mrad, Nadim Bahsoun Director: Mohammad Shawky Hassan Writer: Mohammad Shawky Hassan Certificate: 18 Duration: 66 mins Released by: TLA Releasing Release date: 26th September 2022 Buy ‘Shall I Compare You to a Summer’s Day?’ now

[rwp-reviewer-rating-stars id=”0″]

Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip is the Editor of Entertainment Focus and the Managing Director of agency Piñata Media.

Must Read

Advertisement