Do It For Her
7 Jul 2022
Fady Elsayed, Jonathan Hansler, Patsy Prince, Malikai Nwaka
A title like ‘Do It For Her’ immediately makes you think it’ll be the latest Jennifer Anniston rom-com, but in fact, this neat little short is anything but. Rather, it’s a tale of a young man with a crippling gambling addiction - not quite to the anxiety-inducing level of ‘Uncut Gems’, and with a lot less Adam Sandler - ‘Do It For Her’ is nonetheless an effective introspective thrill-ride into the pitfalls of making a bet.
Bilal (Fady Elsayed) is a young man, stumbling through his university coursework whilst living at home with his mother (Patsy Prince) and her partner Steve (Jonathan Hansler). He works, trains and spends time with friend Ryan (Malikai Nwaka), who just so happens to work with his dad at the family jewel shop. The problem with university coursework, and that tricky stage in adult life in general, is the finances. Money is hard to come by when you're a student - having to divide time between work and studies is far from ideal, and this leads Bilal down a dark path.
Bilal’s plight is perhaps amplified by the fact that he is a man of faith - of Islam. The Quran forbids Muslims from gambling, however, the reckless young man that he is, Bilal puts faith on one side in order to aid his financial state. Things begin well, money is earned through the tap of a button and Bilal splurges - spending money on Ryan (who enables the addiction to begin with) and on his mother’s bake sale at the Mosque. A fresh fifty-pound note deposited in the donations box - the cupcakes must be nice. However, all is not rosy and the spiral of decline begins - Bilal’s losing streak begins and has no end in sight - it’s not long before he’s in a deeper hole than the one before he started.
‘Do It For Her’ is at its best when demonstrating the damaging effects of gambling - both on Bilal and those around him. Bilal distances himself from others, shutting himself off from friends and family and becomes aggressive and impulsive. As he begins to feel as though the noose is tightening with regards to the debt, he is prepared to risk it all in order to escape. All this is impeccably acted by Fady Elsayed, who transitions from a friendly student to a vulnerable, violent addict with ease. Elsayed captures the viewer’s attention, and ensures that however he feels, we feel to - it is a carefully measured performance, one that could, with the wrong actor, veer into overacting, however, Elsayed is phenomenal throughout.
Whilst the effect of Bilal’s addiction on Ryan and Steve are both hard-hitting, the effect on his mother is rather more ambiguous. As you may have guessed by this stage - ‘Do It For Her’ refers to Bilal’s mother, a problem given that she remains an unknown entity throughout - seemingly empathetic towards Bilal but equally unjustly angry at Steve. Other characters around her - in particular Steve - are far more intriguing than the ‘Her’ the title refers to - a significant setback when believing or sympathising with Bilal’s ultimate motivation.
Still, ‘Do It For Her’ is a fine example of what can be done with a good script and talented actors. Shehroze Khan is an effective director, perfectly outlining Bilal’s isolation even when surrounded by those he loves. Take a gamble on ‘Do It For Her’, it’s not the lovey-dovey mush the name suggests.