Ali is a small-time hustler, earning commission every time he brings a big spender to a nightclub, and Lana is the daughter of the most respected stylist – and single mother – in east Amman. But this modern Romeo and Juliet have reputations to consider, and the streets buzz with gossip. When an extortionist strikes with a compromising video, the whole neighborhood – including top mob boss Abbas – becomes entangled in retribution and half-truths. The Alleys captures a vibrant ecosystem of uneasy alliances, undercutting moments of violence and betrayal with a wry humour that keeps the piece light and characters strangely captivating – even lovable. 

Debut director Bassel Ghandour moves swiftly, switching perspectives and protagonists with ease. Despite the sprawling cast and changing focuses, business and family connections remain coherent even in passing interactions. The Alleys’ five chapters occasionally get lost in flashbacks but are driven by a charismatic narrator (whose identity remains unknown until the final act) and the sympathy each party has built up through their respective misadventures.

With The Sopranos back in cultural conversations, comparisons seem too easy. But The Alleys captures a similar mundanity and humanity in a criminal underworld, where absurd comedy exists alongside ruthless violence. A lesser film would have made Abbas and Lana’s mother Aseel cooler, or crueller; here, they often feel as lost as the children’s generation, earning sympathy even as they drive themselves and others into increasingly dangerous corners. It is a winning, endearing combination that plays out across the entire cast, except perhaps Abbas’ ultra-cool right-hand woman Hanadi. Her presence lights up every scene she appears in, but her steeliness belongs to another film. 

An immensely fun crime caper with a charismatic cast of reprobates and rebels, The Alleys will stick in mind and heart long after the last debt has been paid. 



CAST: Emad Azmi, Baraka Rahmani, Nadira Omran, Munther Rayahnah, Maisa Abd Elhadi 

DIRECTOR: Bassel Ghandour 

WRITER: Bassel Ghandour 

SYNOPSIS: When Ali and Lana’s secret love affair is discovered, the hustler finds himself on the wrong side of the Amman underworld.