OTT Review: Soulmate redefines notions of love

The Egyptian movie Soulmate takes a tragicomic look at making peace with choices after a crushing loss,


Sushmita Bose

Published: Thu 5 May 2022, 7:51 PM

What you choose to do, who you wish to be, the choices you make subliminally — everything is in your mind: your brain, the creative part of it (not the neurological/clinical part) controls your life, and, in a way, shapes your destiny.

Soulmate, that released in 2020 and has recently been incorporated into the Netflix gallery, begins with an incandescent Omar (Hasan El-Raddad) and Reem (Amina Khalil) getting married, and Reem dying in a freak accident while they are on their honeymoon. As a devastated Omar clutches at the last vestiges of sanity, his family gets him to see a mental health specialist to help him come to terms with his grief. His therapist (Ragaa Al-Gidawy) has an unusual way of healing her patients. You can’t bring back the dead, she says, but who you choose to be in your life can answer many questions that we are eternally in pursuit of. His ‘therapy’ consists of being lulled into a series of meditative states: where he can push open one door out of five which pop up every time he’s in trance, and then see for himself how a given set of circumstances pan out. Whatever Omar is seeing, his therapist tells him, is what he is subconsciously choosing to, and in the end he realises that the universe may be blinking him a message. Now what message can be ‘suggested’ — and that too on auto prompt — to the one who has lost his better half? Soulmate is a fascinating watch, one that leads us to examine the choices we believe are right for us, but may or may not be. The best part is that there is no real bottom line and everything happens in the realm of probability.

Confusing? At many levels, yes, it is confusing, but deliciously confusing. You want to really know what the hell is going on here — which is what makes a sceptical Omar return time and again to seek answers.

You may argue that Soulmate can be viewed as a ‘triangle’ — even though at the very outset the tone is defined: the leading lady is dead, so how can there be a triangle with an absent party?

It’s all these elements that make up Soulmate, alongside a cast of astounding actors who all step up to deliver knockout performances (I noted, much to my discerning glee, that the stupendous Aïcha Ben Ahmed — who plays a character I do not want to give away too much details on and play spoiler — is someone I absolutely loved in the Egyptian serial Newton’s Cradle, that I had reviewed on these pages).

One compelling bit about Soulmate is how there’s a sense of lurking mystery; at times, you believe there’s some kind of ‘paranormal’ whataboutery going on, but actually it’s all happening in the mind and being transposed on everyday life.

I’d suggest you watch the end very carefully because the mother of all twists happens in the last scene — the very moment when the movie ends — and that is likely to make you question life and the doors of our perceptions for hours on end.

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