From the beginning text alongside the credits that reads, “I am a woman who understands body language and can speak it too…I can read you man,” Amr Al-Hariri’s Silent Love Stories-II anchors its perspective and assures us that this will perhaps not be a conventional romance filled with clichéd dialogue, hokey pick-up lines, and forced misadventures, but rather one that intends to zero in on the nuances of our bodies and expressions when flirting with or showing interest in someone.
It further establishes these aims through a type of meta-textual manifesto as the opening credits continue, including a self-awareness in statements such as “No dialogue,” “It is not a music video,” and “It is not a silent movie, it is not a romance, it is all the above”—all while a multi-media montage rolls on, with footage of a woman’s interpretive movement on a beach, actor photos, colorful title designs, and even an intimate tracking shot that brings us close up to the musician who will provide the powerful narrative music for each scenario going forward. It is an eclectic and immediately intriguing experimentation with the medium.
The filmmaking proves just as eclectic and full of energy as the vignettes (which eventually interlock in a conclusion of…infidelity and revenge) ensue. A woman attempts to woo a man in a library, they go on subsequent dates, and we see that he is involved with two other women at the same time. While it might seem a rather straightforward love quadrangle on the surface, it is the visual approach that allows us to see the varying dynamics in each situation between each different person. Some movements are as slight as a flicker of the eyes, others as blatant as removing one’s vest to reveal some skin.
Furthermore, the camera is restless, as if ogling the people on screen, as if we as voyeurs are being directly seduced through their bodily gestures while our cinematic lens whips around them, allowing for a chance to linger on each and every detail of their behavior and motions. Thus, not only are the editing and camerawork reminiscent of, say, someone’s race of emotions in a romantic encounter, but the texture of the cinematography itself is also seemingly playful; it is so professionally shot that it appears as an ideal. It is as if we are envisioning the perfect day through the look of the film, for it comes off as sleek in its visuals as a car commercial. This proves to be that much more effective when the characters’ stories end in disillusion.
Ultimately, Silent Love Stories-II understands the framework of romance in which it operates, as well as the essential aspect of cinema—the image in motion. From the cabaret-like musical numbers that complement the action in the frame to the frantic movement of the camera and the free-flowing, unpredictable expressions of the actors, the film certainly manages to accomplish its noble artistic mission, which reads as follows: “Attraction does not come with a manual, and ‘Silent Love Stories’ is about capturing these moments.” It is in these smaller, interactive moments of physicality and observation that Al-Hariri’s film in fact creates its own manual for the “love story.”