Head to Head is a film worth watching because it’s a buddy picture that works on many levels with two standout comedic performances.
Here is our review of the 2023 Netflix movie Head to Head, which does not contain significant spoilers.
The Saudi Netflix movie Head to Head excels at the single thing any buddy-comedy should do well: outstanding chemistry between the leads. Adel Radwan and Abdulaziz Alshehri exhibit the classic Felix and Oscar behaviors that naturally create comedic friction. They are a delight from start to finish.
Director Malik Nejer (Masameer: The Movie) brings visual flair to his live-action debut that’s engaging. Along with a very funny situational farce script from Abdulaziz Al-Muzaini, the movie, as the kids say, slaps in just the right ways. Some very dark, ominous, and even unsettling ways.
Head to Head Review and Plot Summary
The story follows two characters. One is Darwish (Radwan), a sensitive and terribly lovesick chauffeur. He causes a rift between his girlfriend, Latifa (Ida Alkusay), and her father after he sends him a picture with a gun to his head, saying that he cannot live without her.
She suggests they elope to England because her father will never approve of Darwish and his social status.
The other is Fayadh (Alshehri), a shady mechanic who will strip your car for parts without regrets. He’s about to be fired when he’s caught stealing a vehicle after keeping it for two weeks to fix a simple brake light.
That’s until his boss gets the axe, and the arrogantly oblivious son of the owner makes him the CEO. Unfortunately, both are about to make a mistake that will affect their lives.
Fayadh sends Darwish to pick up the owner’s father but accidentally brings back a man known as the King of Diamonds, who has apparent ties to the criminal underworld. He was just released from a Russian prison.
Consequently, one of Fayadh’s chauffeurs delivers his boss’s father to Jack Diamond King, the crime lord and son of the former Russian prisoner.
And that, my friends, is the situation Darwish and Fayadh find themselves in when it comes to this darkly droll farce. This movie is hilarious, particularly the interaction between the leads.
Combined with the director’s visual flair, it makes for a memorable black comedy. For one, Alshehri is very adept at deadpan delivery and a blank stare that is consistently funny, not just amusing.
Let’s discuss Nejer and how he takes the broad genre and makes the visual medium his own. His depiction of the infamous city of Bathaikha — think Gotham in the desert but less forgiving — reminds you of the film Dark City, ominous, unsettling, and constantly has you on edge.
There isn’t a single scene where someone isn’t pulling out a large slab of sharp steel at the slightest provocation.
Is Head to Head good or bad?
The Netflix buddy comedy is a very good film. Nejer also utilizes his skills in animation, drawing comparisons to his animated series Masameer County. As a storytelling tool, the filmmaker animates a pivotal plot point to explain the villain’s backstory.
The sequence is beautifully done and is used as a transition, allowing the film to shift from a buddy picture into a Vantablack comedy. The film could have ended with standard intercut pre-credits, but Nejer smartly animates the ending to give the viewer an experience that stands out from the rest.
Is Head to Head worth watching?
This is worth watching. The movie works on various levels. It’s worth noting that Saudi cinema is a relatively new venture. The first film was shot in the country in 2012. This may reflect the film’s themes. It offers a commentary on violence perceived as commonplace. That’s how Nejer’s film nonchalantly takes it, using comedy to emanate its normalization.
Just like the air we breathe.
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