Some shows start on a terrible note but become better with progression. Some start on a promising note and become worse with progression. Then, there are some series' that maintain the same standard - good or bad - from the beginning to the end. Hard Broken, directed by Elie F. Habib, looks shoddy from its first scene and remains a load of rubbish until the end. Consider the opening sequence. A man urgently drives a woman to the hospital. He is Adam (Muhanad Al-Hamdi), and she is, unfortunately, not Eve but Yasmine (Rasha Bilal). What immediately feels off about this sequence is Yasmine's shrieks. It's tinged with insincerity, and for a second, I thought Hard Broken would turn out to be some kind of parody. My suspicions grew even stronger when another woman started crying at a hospital in front of an injured Adam.
Throughout the show's runtime, the actors exaggerate their expressions. Their wicked/guilty/innocent faces are so crystal clear that you don't need a lie detector to tell you whether they are speaking the truth. Hence, for the most part, you wonder why these characters are so clueless about the identity of Yasmine's lover. But there is a twist, you know. I won't spoil it, though I will mention it's ridiculously executed. Hard Broken purposefully shows you one thing in the beginning and then shows the same event differently during the revelation. Why? To misdirect the audience! Of course, whenever a show desperately attempts to cover up its secrets, it falls flat in the climax. Because in the end, it randomly makes things up to just shock the audience (like the identity of a driver). I wouldn't have been surprised if Yasmine had turned out to be a figment of Adam's imagination.
What this also means is that Hard Broken merely relies on its twist to do the heavy lifting. There is nothing worth your admiration in this entire show. Al-Hamdi's performance resembles that of a kid who tries too hard to present himself as serious. Whenever he shouts at someone, you get this strong desire to burst into laughter (this urge arises again when a man screams from behind bars). He's the most unlikable character. His sharp-featured face and neatly trimmed hair make him look like a wooden model. Give him colorful outfits, and he will surely give camera-friendly poses. However, as far as acting skills are concerned, they are simply defined by a streak of amateurishness. Al-Hamdi either speaks loudly or wears an angry, irritated countenance. If the show wanted us to be repulsed by him, well, it successfully did its job. Hard Broken, with the help of a flashback, informs the viewers why Adam behaves so cruelly and insecurely when Yasmine fails to pick up his calls. But his motivations don't matter. There are no psychological layers here. Everyone is one-dimensional.
The women, be it Bilal or Douja Hijazi, are easy on the eye and mostly walk around distressed (they smile here and there). Hijazi, though, looks like a snake at one point with a gaze so piercing it threatens to create a hole in the screen. Still, the actors merely deliver their lines and act as per the story's requirements. There is no room for improvisation or imagination. Hard Broken is a soap opera. It's so absorbed with questions like "Who's the killer? Who's Yasmine's lover?" that it fails to develop any emotion. You feel nothing while watching this show - not even a sense of excitement or trepidation.
Hard Broken is about infidelity - the fulfillment of sexual and emotional needs in the arms of a person who's not your spouse. Yet, the series is devoid of passion. Yasmine's lover displays politeness, but his sentiments lack that genuine warmth of romance. And as far as carnality is concerned, Hard Broken is limp and impotent. The eroticism is merely hinted at and never intensely brought to the foreground. Men look at cleavages and bare legs, while women seduce and put on skimpy dresses. However, the scene ends before anything can happen.
Sex is neither present on screen nor off. A maid touches her master's hand and declares her love, but this event is not developed further. What's the point of adopting a shy lens on a subject that deals with intimacy and coition? This leads you to wonder, "Who's the target audience for Hard Broken?" Bad shows like Obsession and Fatal Seduction at least sell sex to the audience. What is this show selling to us? This cheap material is not tantalizing or gives us the pleasure of watching hot people making love to each other. All those shots of derrières and bosoms and Hard Broken still fails to make you...hard.
The colors are mainly muted. The frames appear lifeless in the present timeline and become gaudily yellow during flashbacks. (These flashbacks end with a pause, and initially, I thought my computer was hanging or something). One explanation for this dullness can be that the scenes look spiritless because a character is dead. But this logic could have made sense if Hard Broken had been well-made. This is just a series with a cheap aesthetic and forgettable storyline. Everything is so awful that the twist comparatively doesn't look that bad.
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