Four years ago, a Saudi production and financing group, Telfaz11, started a series of 22 episodes called ‘Al-Khallat‘ on their Youtube channel. It was a massive hit in the region and immediately garnered attention. Because the Al-Khallat series stood for its rich presentation of social elements in the shape of skits that screened in a range between 15 and 35 minutes each episode.
In November 2020, Telfaz11 signed a deal with Netflix that will produce eight films in the future. This partnership was inevitable after the immediate success of the anthology series ‘Six Windows in the Desert‘. So, recently released, AlKhallat+ is Netflix’s first Saudi film. A historical moment in Saudi entertainment history.
Al-Khallat+ is an anthology film of four stories that are directed by Fahad Alammari. Each of the stories is based on lies and deception. Al-Khallat+ is a situational comedy that establishes a wind-blown-out-of-nowhere trajectory where the characters find themselves jeopardizing to survive embarrassment.
Al-Khallat+ is the upgrade of the original work with obvious high-production values and freedom of expression that aids in developing better storytelling than ever. Each of the stories is ranged half an hour and promises the audience to present short segments that are fresh, interesting, and funny.
The film’s opener has a bunch of tire thieves sneaking into a wedding to save their partner in crime who is caught by a family whose girl is getting married. In the next story, a chef in an upscale restaurant arranges dinner for her parents to give one last shot at saving the marriage. In the third story, a friend of the deceased tries to hide his extramarital affair from his wailing wife. In the final story, a father and son are mistakenly stuck in a nightclub after the former finds out that the latter is there.
The entire film with four stories is shot at night. Why? Is there something that I am missing while trying to observe? Perhaps, day. I noticed that the first two stories had old cars. I liked that idea to disjoint an understanding that always goes that an Arab is always rich. Middle- and lower-class Saudi families face crises and cannot afford the luxury. The bride’s father was not going to drive his family in some luxury car for a special occasion but in a Camry. Despite the fact that the daughter works in some five-star restaurant, the family had Crown and assumingly didn’t bother considering a new car even on installments.
I must say that AlKhallat+ at some point looked to exaggerate humor. Some of the scenes were questionable. Like abducting and bullying the tire thief looked highly non-sensical. Could have called or taken him to the police and finished with him. I understand the situation was cross enough to fantasize about it for the comic. Why was the son staring and holding the teaboy for so long and calling his father when it wasn’t meant for recognising him?
The termination letter to the chef was quite shocking. Naturally, in a given scenario that messed up the business of that evening, the manager could have given her a final warning or max, suspension. But straight termination didn’t sound right.
The suspense that broke by the end of the third story was hilarious but the question is, when did the deceased’s wife sit in the ambulance? She was not inside the vehicle when the car was driven. How come the security didn’t stop the couple’s children from moving into the hotel? The boy looked clearly suspicious but went unnoticeable.
Plotholes lower the quality of writing. At the same time, the writers took care of some detailing. The way the deceased’s wife unlocked the phone and forgot to remove the specs was hilarious. The mannerism of the parents at the restaurant was on point, especially the father. Asking for a family section then partition, sitting on his legs, slippers off and incorrectly eating spaghetti. I wanted something to fall when he tries to touch her hand. Although, the daughter lost her job, but her effort reunited her parents. So it was not a loss at all.
The best aspect of the film and its humor is that the writing successfully jeopardizes the situation of the characters. It is more fun to see people embroiled in an unwanted scenario. This film lives on those silly moments.
AlKhallat+ for me is the promising start of the Netflix/Telfaz11 partnership. I am very interested in comedies that find their purpose in a different story setting. After all, we all are willing to watch a comedy that is based on new parallels and settlements.
And that is the beauty of global diversity. Every country has its way of showing us comedy in its typical form. Believe it or not, Saudi entertainment actually has its way to make us laugh. Coming from a generation born and raised in Saudi Arabia and watching ‘Taash ma Taash‘ every Ramadan, Al-Khallat+ naturally made me enjoy these skits.
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