Saturday, 21 July 2012

Challenge Excepted: Lebanon

I loved 'Caramel' and I love Nadine Labaki. My friends and I am had been waiting years for a follow up second feature, as Labaki directs lots of music videos too, and finally the film arrived in UK.

The story is set in a remote, isolated and unnamed village in Lebanon where Muslims and Christians live side by side. The village is surrounded by land mines with only a small bridge with access in and out of the village. When civil strife consumes the country, the women of the village are first to hear about it and try their best to prevent the men from finding out in fear that they too will take up arms against each other. In various ways, some very amusing they try their best to keep the men in the dark about the world outside the village.

The opening sequence is beautiful. No other way, apart from very sad, to describe it. All the women in the village, dressed in black, walk to the cemetery to morn the men who have died in the war. This sets the tone of the film, a serious drama about women suffering together and trying the keep the peace. Not to paint the the film as a depressing story, the film has some truly comical situation and scenes not to mention the amazing and sudden outbursts of song and music. the best musical number being when the women bake hash into sweet pasteries for the men without their knowledge.

Women are a common theme in Labki's films, both Caramel (2007) and Where Do We Go Now? are centred around women and their friendships which overcome all obstacles, especially in the latter. The friendships she presents feel real, which has a great deal to do with the fact that she uses non actors. The cast on a whole are brilliant, including Labaki herself, they manage the changing tempo of comedy and tragedy.

The title may seem strange and odd at first by in the last few minutes of the film, it becomes so clear what the film is trying to say, where do we go now? Well Labaki can only do great things. Just wish her films were shown for longer than a week.

I admire Labaki so much as she writes, directs and acts in her films and she is actually appreciated in the film industry. There are too few female directors who are respected and Labaki gives me hope for the future.

End Line: Women are proved to be the real strong characters in a world of chaos.

Next: France

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