The urge to dazzle may be its private straitjacket, and it’s one which weighs intently on Meshal Aljaser’s operate debut “Naga.” He targets for a hurtling virtuosity, à la “Run Lola Run,” in depicting a disobedient youthful Saudi girl’s extreme travails in attempting to get dwelling sooner than her strict curfew. Nonetheless that quarter-century-old German thriller’s simplicity of plot supported its hyperbolic mannequin, whereas proper right here the writer-director is so preoccupied with digital digital camera and editorial calisthenics, nothing else has a chance to return again into focus. The flamboyant nonetheless gap outcomes actually really feel like too acutely conscious a calling card for a experience that subsequent outing must embrace some restraint, to not level out substance.

A 1970 prologue of murky relevance begins points off at peak melodramatic and cinematic hysteria, as an individual enters a hospital with an automatic weapon whereas DP Ibraheem Alshangeeti does upside-down 360’s for no obvious objective. Throughout the present day, points aren’t quite a bit calmer: Launched surreptitiously smoking, little one among wealth Sarah (Adwa Bader) appears jaded and bratty. Nonetheless then, so does all people we meet of her period proper right here, though regardless of social critique the film intends will get obscured amid all the mud its hectic progress kicks up. 

Sarah chafes on the restrictions of her conservative Riyadh household, significantly as enforced by her father (Khalid Bin Shaddad). His wrath is to not be toyed with, so she’s taking an infinite hazard in ostensibly going procuring with equally peevish good buddy Hadeel (Miriam Alshagrawi), when it’s truly an excuse to go on an unchaperoned date with Saad (Yazeed Almajyul). Though he hardly seems the accountable form, this can be very, important he return Sarah to the place the place dad will select her up at 10 p.m. — penalties to blowing that deadline may very well be dire. Nonetheless, the duo drive off into the desert, stopping to do some unspecified leisure substances en path to a secret event Saad has wrangled an invitation to. 

Each factor which may presumably go incorrect shortly does. They’re briefly terrorized by a passing truck; Sarah has a hallucinatory interlude that induces fits of screaming and laughing; they witness three quad-biker louts assaulting an ice cream truck operator. Arguing for the 99th (nonetheless not remaining) time on a distant road, the distracted couple drive into an unfortunate camel, as its enraged mother raises hell behind a fence — the place it’s not going to soundly keep for prolonged. Upon effectively discovering the event finally, Sarah manages to have extra altercations with Saad, one different disagreeable girlfriend (Oumkalthoum Sarah Bard) and the event’s host (Jabran Aljabran), a widely known poet. Within the meantime, the clock is ticking, and she or he won’t be however headed homeward. 

Worse nonetheless will occur, along with a police raid. For a while, there’s quite a bit violent retribution from the aforementioned offended mama camel, it seems “Naga” might flip proper right into a creature operate of the “nature strikes once more” choice. There are some clever twists inside the late going, providing Sarah with against-the-odds potential salvation, and the film ends on a nice caustic observe.

Nonetheless Aljaser piles on quite a bit incessant, gimmicky stylistic overkill, his tonal shifts all actually really feel scattershot, and the overall stage elusive. Such a short-attention-spanned methodology leaves you questioning if and when the film means to be a easy thriller, black comedy, satire of mores, cautionary story or regardless of else — it doesn’t juggle these varied balls quite a bit as merely throw all of them inside the air, then depart the viewer to duck. 

The influence is just cluttered, rather more so on the subject of showy methodology. Too usually “Naga” feels identical to the kind of film faculty practice whereby faculty college students ought to incorporate every trick and course of they’ve found into one endeavor — in no way ideas their irrelevance to the nominal story or thematic content material materials. That extends to the occasional fits of just about strobe-like modifying, along with Omar Fadel’s anything-goes distinctive ranking, which is abetted by tracks by completely different composers.

Though not given quite a bit home to create character depth, the performers are sport. There’s a great deal of fleetingly admirable stimulus inside the realm of producing design, location choices, et al. However “Naga” is so persistently effortful, usually one wants it may merely settle for the elemental cheesiness of being “Killer Camel” — or one thing less-than, as Aljaser’s precocity slathers on such density of filigree, his film seems to don’t have something robust at its base. 

After premiering in Toronto’s midnight half, and participating within the Pink Sea Film Competitors, “Naga” is now streaming on Netflix.

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