There is the story of the closet homosexual and his forbidden love affair with a soldier; the skirt-chasing aristocrat who ends up alienating his family and friends because he refused to grow up; and numerous romantic tales and troubles, including the rocky relationship Taha has with his girlfriend Bosnaina.
Although there are definitely some soap opera-like plot points in this movie, the deeper message is about the way class divisions can so significantly affect peoples lives. The rich are no happier than the poor, because all of them are slaves to the expectations of their own class. All of the characters seem to feel trapped in an a frustrating and unhappy existence, which is ultimately a reflection of their lack of freedom to shape their own lives because their class status has already shaped their lives for them.
This is a very long film (over three hours) but it needs to be this long to capture all of the stories of its multitude of characters.
It could practically be divided into two separate normal length films without losing any of its meaning because there is so much going on that it can be difficult to keep all of the characters straight.
Despite that, however, the film does offer a compelling and insightful look into the plights of Cairo and its residents. So I found it to be, overall, a quite intriguing film. This movie showed me that no matter where in the world you are, people have essentially the same types of personal and political problems. Their intensity may be on different scales, but in the end, people are just people trying to get by and have fulfilling lives despite all of the obstacles that seem to be trying to prevent them.