WHERE DO WE GO NOW?
A group of Lebanese women try to ease religious tensions between Christians and Muslims in their village.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
If Christopher Hitchens were alive to see this film, he would be nodding in sad agreement at the depiction of violent behaviour fuelled by differences in religion - all within the one small community. Set in a Lebanese village, the story is a microcosm of the global malaise in which Christians and Muslims create conflict entirely out of thin air by taking religious offence. Of course, once revenge is taken, the tangible fuel for the continuation of conflict is established in a never ending cycle.
Nadine Labaki wrote this film after giving birth to her son a little while ago, prompted by experience. Her debut feature, Caramel (2007), had a metropolitan setting, with her central character running a hairdressing salon in Beirut. It was an essay on how the women who worked there interacted and shared and supported each other.
In her second film, the women of a poor Lebanese village, exasperated by the violence and stupidity of the men, hatch a plan to turn things around. Labaki, again starring in her own film, creates a strange duo-tone in this work, inserting song (and some short romantic fantasy sequences) and a touch of magic realism by way of a Virgin Mary statue that weeps blood - or so it seems.
The women's scheme is also rather fanciful, but good hearted people will want to believe it could work. Never mind that, the film is intent on establishing this small community in various ways, starting with the installation of a public TV set, with its imperfect reception offering a glimpse into an imperfect world beyond the village.
Labaki works hard to expand the basic story, which only warrants a short film - but it would be a good one, with a ready made punch line.
What Labaki gets absolutely right is the characters and the people who play them. Tangibly real and complex, the performances are authentic and demand to be watched.
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WHERE DO WE GO NOW? (M)
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CAST: Nadine Labaki, Claude Baz Moussawbaa, Layla Hakim, Yvonne Maalouf
PRODUCER: Nadine Labaki, Anne-Dominique Toussaint
DIRECTOR: Nadine Labaki
SCRIPT: Nadine Labaki, Rodney Al Haddid, Jihad Hojeily, Sam Mounier
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Christophe Offenstein
EDITOR: Veronique Lange
MUSIC: Khaled Mouzannar
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Cynthia Zahar
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hopscotch
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 28, 2012
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