The Alleys, the review: secrets and lies in a dangerous neighborhood

The review of The Alleys, a Jordanian film set in an Amman neighborhood where “everyone knows everything about everyone”, with dynamics that trigger increasingly tense and controversial situations. On Rai4 and available on RaiPlay.

The Alleys, the review: secrets and lies in a dangerous neighborhood

The translation of the English-speaking title The Alleys it’s literally”the alleys” and this is precisely the particular setting that forms the backdrop to the story. These narrow streets between the houses, which also characterize many Italian cities, hide here secrets and mysteries of the eastern area of ​​Amman, the capital of Jordan, where it takes place the intricate story.

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The Alleys: a scene from the film

Successfully presented at the Locarno Film Festival and the BFI London Film Festival, the film marks the feature film debut of director Bassel Ghandour, who already proves to be at ease in the management of spaces and the protagonists in them, giving life to a choral approach to the context that manages to give a sort of bizarre vitality to the lives of these bizarre and bizarre characters, grappling with more or less (re)sought criminal triggers.

This marriage is not to be done

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The Alleys: a scene from the film

Set out in five chapters, the story begins with the tormented love story between two young people, opposed by her mother. Ali and Lana love each other, but he lied to her by pretending to be a wealthy businessman; the two meet secretly at night, when Ali sneaks unseen into her room, unaware of the girl’s mother. The latter soon becomes the victim of blackmail on her mobile phone by someone who filmed the nocturnal intrusion, with an explanatory video, and forbids her daughter to see her beloved again, also pushing her to an arranged marriage. To succeed in his intent he also hired a cruel local gangster, Abbas, in order to threaten what could have become an uncomfortable son-in-law, unaware that this choice will unleash a series of increasingly catastrophic and dangerous events, which will lead to nothing Good.

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An over the top community

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The Alleys: a scene from the film

A neighborhood, a popular neighborhood where everyone knows everyone. It is no coincidence that one of the main figures, that of the mother, runs her own hairdressing shop, an ideal theater for local gossip, which will not by chance be at the center of some key revelations. On certain occasions you seem to be witnessing one of the many misadventures spawned by Spanish filmmaker Álex de la Iglesia during his career, but The Alleys manages to find its own distinct personality also due to the exotic background, that Jordan often exploited for postcard purposes by Hollywood productions and little known in autochthonous genre productions. The two hours of viewing thus allow us to discover a pleasant urban undergrowth, certainly addressed here in tones and noir atmospheres veiled in grotesque surpluses but in any case mindful of indigenous culture, giving life to a curious and entertaining operation that knows its stuff.

Bitter rice

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The Alleys: a scene from the film

Excesses of humour nero, a sarcastic violence and the ineffable course of destiny in which individuals become pawns in a murky game of the absurd, where Evil spreads like wildfire and the voyeuristic gaze of a video camera becomes not only a narrative voice but also an eye lucid with which to face the cruelty of a sneaky and paradoxical world, where a devastating boomerang is hidden behind a potential victory, ready to come back even sharper than at the start. It is celebrated like this “the disappearance of those who have disappeared, the death of those who have died” under the banner of something inevitable, because life goes on despite everything and “the stories here are always the same“. The deepest meaning of The Alleys is enclosed precisely in the aforementioned lines, a peculiar work capable of intriguing and offering an unprecedented look at Jordanian cinema.


A love built on lies, thwarted by an upstart mother and further undermined by the arrival of a ruthless gangster. In the streets of Amman, the capital of Jordan, all sorts of things happen in this grotesque and captivating noir, able to make the most of the charm of the setting and that central core of characters, each struggling with their own skeletons in the closet . The Alleys has its own distinct personality, not hiding more or less obvious influences, and knows how to keep the attention steady until the end credits arrive, with the division into chapters exploring the progressive descent into the moral hell by the protagonists.

Because we like it

  • The particular setting gives further charm to the intricate story.
  • Well-developed characters, with a cast of the right faces in the right places.
  • Tension and irony coexist harmoniously in the two hours of viewing.

What’s wrong

  • Some excess and ingenuity during the script peeps out here and there.

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