Reviews - Where Do We Go Now?
Where Do We Go Now?
Reviewed By John Stakes
Lebanese director Nadine Labaki opted in the main for comedy in her depiction of the struggles of the womenfolk in coping with the loss and injury to their menfolk caused entirely by religious feuding.Daily life is hard enough in any event. Their un-named village is surrounded by landmines and their only bridge to the outside world is narrow and dangerous to cross. The men, forever influenced by the conflict raging in other parts of Lebanon, find any excuse to be at odds with each other, and the local priest, imam, and mayor are ineffective in keeping good order. The local cemetery is divided in two by a road so that the dead can be as divided in death as they were in life.
So the women take it upon themselves to curb the squabbling and bring some harmony to their lives. In the event their task is herculean but, necessity as ever being the mother of invention, they come up with several home if not half baked ideas to foster peace and give it a chance. They try to destroy the recently acquired TV showing reports of the wider conflict and sabotage the local radio for the same reason. They bury the village arsenal of guns in a box. They hire some girls from the nearest night club to please the men and turn their minds to more productive and enjoyable activity, and slip hashish into their food and spike their drinks having organised a meeting of all the villagers. But all to no avail.
Reality inevitably still bit. And struck home when one of two popular youths, Nassim is killed outside the village when he and his cousin Roukoz, set off to buy much needed provisions. Grief stricken and anxious not to let this tragedy ignite yet more conflict in the village, Nassim's mother tries to pretend he is alive and suffering from mumps. Her cover-up fails.
In a final effort to persuade the men to see the folly of their actions the women exchange their religions and the film concludes with a scene (which mirrors the opening scene) in which the women move to the cemetery but this time with the men carrying Nassim's coffin. When they reach the cemetery the men do not know on which side of the road the body should be laid to rest (no grave having yet been dug) and turn to the women for guidance. Blackout.
This last and very telling scene was particularly effective and contrasted sharply with many earlier scenes in which the story came across as confusing and very loosely directed. Scant time was spent introducing the various characters and it was difficult (deliberately for effect?) to distinguish between the Christian and their Muslim counterparts. And there were times when the subtitles seemed not to chime with the visuals. The film suffered from a tonal imbalance, the comedy being uncomfortably juxtapositioned with personal and collective grief at times. Still, the ensemble acting from the women was good (particularly Nadine Labaki herself as Amale and Layla Hakim as Afaf) and the utter futility of inter-religious conflict was well transmitted.
The film has achieved international success by winning the people's award at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival and has featured at several other film festivals. Labaki also directed and starred in her first feature "Caramel" in 2007.
The most popular film for the club's audiences this season was "Untouchable" scoring over 92% of its audience vote. The total audience figure for the season was an impressive 1760. The 2013 season carries on where the old one ended with the cream of world cinema starting on the 6th January with "Margaret", a provocative film from the USA starring Anna Paquin (remember her from "The Piano"?).
A Happy New Year to the hard working and committed committee and to all patrons.
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