A disabled news vendor's dream of marrying a beautiful soda seller, herself besotted with a strapping porter, ends in tragedy.
Youssef Chahine's 11th film as a director is also his first as an actor. It's a microcosmic melodrama that uses a bustling symbol of progress to analyse a state divided not just by social injustice, but also by cultural and religious chasms that are widened by external forces.
Chahine gives a vibrantly naturalistic performance as a disabled news vendor whose dream of marrying a beautiful soda seller (Rostom), herself besotted with a strapping porter (Chawki), ends in tragedy. However, an atmosphere of upward aspiration prevails, whether it's the feminist campaigner whose urgings contrast with Chahine's collection of pin-ups, or Chawki's determination to form a union against the exploitation of the railway workers.
Not as depressing as the subject matter might suggest, this tackles heavy themes of modern life.