Tarik Saleh’s gritty political thriller THE NILE HILTON INCIDENT is a wonderfully tense homage to film noir

Fresh from its award-win at the 2017 Sundance Festival, Tarik Saleh brings his gritty political thriller THE NILE HILTON INCIDENT to this year’s London Film Festival.

Set against the backdrop of the Egyptian Revolution, THE NILE HILTON INCIDENT follows corrupt police detective Noredin Mustafa who is called in to investigate the murder of a famous club singer at Cairo’s Nile Hilton Hotel. Initially viewing the job as another opportunity to bribe the suspects, Noredin soon discovers that the dead woman had a secret relationship a wealthy property developer and member of parliament. While searching for the only witness – a Sudanese maid named Salwa – he’s abruptly ordered to close the case but Noredin continues his investigation which leads to an “untouchable” elite who run the country.

Gritty, tense and compelling, THE NILE HILTON INCIDENT mixes gritty police noir with real-life politics in this dark Egyptian thriller. Blending procedural thrills with politicized commentary, writer and director Tarik Saleh’s intelligent and nuanced script shrewdly twists the genre to examine political power and decadence in a forsaken city where everyone wants their cut.

Based loosely on a real murder case from 2008, Saleh transports the action from Dubai to the streets of Cairo to deliver a deeply atmospheric piece of cinema. Neat visual touches sit alongside panoramic shots and frequent cutaways of the metro skyline, giving a moody noirish feel to the film with an overall sense of lingering danger.


Fares Fares delivers a strong performance as the ambivalent antihero Noredin, his understated and downbeat performance capturing the police detective’s sense of helplessness as he grows from corrupt lawmaker to upright hero.

Elsewhere, Fares is well-matched by co-star Mari Malek as Salwa, as well as Hania Amar as the exotic and beautiful singer Gina.

While the pacing is a little slow at times and there isn’t a great amount of intrigue into who is the killer, the plot is made all the more potent by Saleh’s re-staging of the 2011 Tahir Square demonstrations which set to engulf everyone and everything in its path.

All in all, a bleak-but-fascinating political thriller that follows in the best tradition of film noir.

3.5 out of 5 stars

THE NILE HILTON INCIDENT screens at the BFI London Film Festival on 11 October 2017.