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average rating is 4 out of 5


Patrick Foley


Posted on:

Oct 4, 2023

Film Reviews
Directed by:
Aziz Zoromba
Written by:
Aziz Zoromba
Basel El Rayes, Seif El Reyes, Aladeen Tawfeek

Whilst brothers fighting over videogames will always be unavoidable, racism and islamophobia should not be. Simo explores the relationship and rivalry between two siblings, who experience a shocking and traumatic incident when one goes behind the other’s back.


Simo (Basel El Rayes) and Emad (Seif El Rayes) are a pair of Egyptian brothers living in Canada with their father (Aladeen Tawfeek). The pair are no strangers to squabbles – finding regular points of contention over who gets control of music and video games – and living in the same cramped bedroom isn’t helping either of them. One day Simo decides to sneakily takeover Emad’s streaming channel on a shooting game – and quickly amasses a considerable following. But when he is racially profiled and a false report is filed, the family’s lives are turned upside down.


At the centre of Simo is a brotherly bond that is largely strained. Simo and Emad (portrayed by real siblings Basel and Seif El Rayes) are a pair who struggle to find common ground, despite their father’s pleadings. Both are guilty of perpetuating their feud – and the film does an admirable job of restraining against the desire to villainize one or the other. Crucially, Emad feels more eager to hide his identity as Arab, doing what he can to fit in – even with people he does not know. Simo meanwhile feels a calling to embrace his identity, playing Egyptian music and making no effort to conceal his language or accent when he plays games online. This dynamic is key to their rift, and whilst the film is pro-embracing one’s identity, it makes Emad’s choices sympathetic given the discrimination the family face.


The brothers have an obvious and effortless chemistry dripped in teen angst and sibling frustration. The family ties are an obvious assist to this, but each actor brings enough to their role to make Emad and Simo dynamic, self-sustaining presences. Aladeen Tawfeek is a quiet but powerful presence as the boy’s long-suffering and anxiety-ridden father. A learned experience of racism lingers in his advice to the boys – and his disciplinarian manner goes some way to explaining why the brothers struggle to emote to one another. The character construction pays off impressively in the film’s third act, as the film’s defining event - brought on by Simo but most terribly impacting on Emad – threatens to tear the troubled family apart.


The plot is a little threadbare at points, and Simo’s video game misadventure that brings about chaos seems a little farfetched for someone with only 200 followers. Whilst the division between the brothers is the ultimate driver of the story, its conclusion feels a little unsatisfying and unfinished. The final scene of the film in which Simo breaks into rap is an unusual and not entirely successful choice, though the symbolic undertext of the lead finally receiving encouragement to embrace his heritage does fit thematically.


Simo therefore is an important and satisfying short drama that engages on an emotional basis with its family-led plot whilst highlighting the impact discrimination can have on young lives. Fine direction and acting add to what is a fine effort from Aziz Zoromba.

About the Film Critic
Patrick Foley
Patrick Foley
Digital / DVD Release, Short Film, Indie Feature Film, World Cinema
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