Netflix’s first original Arabic film, an adaptation of the Italian movie Perfect Strangers, is causing controversy overseas, but the streamer is standing by it.
Set in Beirut, Netflix’s Perfect Strangers remake has been kicking up controversy in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries, with critics alleging that the movie "promotes homosexuality and immorality." However, Netflix is standing firm with support for the film.
“Perfect Strangers is a fictional story that explores universal themes without taking a moral stand, instead inviting the audience to have an open dialogue and debate,” Netflix said in a statement to Variety. “The film tackles tough subjects through humanity and humor, led by a talented Arab cast focused on creative excellence.”
The film is directed by Lebanese filmmaker Wissam Smayra, and stars diverse actors from several different countries like the Lebanese actress Nadine Labaki, Egyptian actress Mona Zaki, and Jordanian actor Eyad Nassar. It follows seven close friends who get together for dinner and decide to play a game where they place their cellphones on the dinner table and agree to openly share every call, text, and voice message they get.
Throughout the dinner, one character is revealed to be gay. In another scene, a female character (played by Zaki) is shown taking off her underwear under the table. These two scenes have sparked controversy in the region, but that doesn't mean those associated with the film aren't receiving support.
While some Egyptian viewers have been calling for Zaki to be ousted from the Egypt actor’s union, the union itself is standing behind her, saying it “will not stand idle in front of any verbal assault or attempt to intimidate any Egyptian artist,” and emphasized it’s “basic principles, the most important of which is preserving creative freedom.”