Released in 2012, this oddly titled Lebanese film never made much of a splash on the art house circuit. Is Where do We go Now? a worthy addition to your collection or just another title in the line of pretentious foreign films that sail under the radar?
- Where do we go Now?
Director: Nadine Labaki
Cast: Nadine Labaki, Leyla Fouad and Claude Msawbaa
Running time: 98
Age restriction: 13 LPD
The unexpected, that’s what comes to mind when I think about this film. On the one hand, looking at the DVD cover, or any poster mind you, a sombre feeling may overwhelm you, seeing the beautiful Nadine Labaki clad all in black, not to mention the title “Where do we go now?”- eliciting a feeling of loss and being lost. In truth, it is all that; dealing with death and conflict between Muslims and Christians within rural Lebanon, but that’s just half the story.
The very first scene does more than just set the tone of the film, it also effectively catches you off guard, as it morphs from being sad and emotive, to downright bizarre – and all you’re watching is a group of women in mourning…
It’s billed as a comedy-drama, but my first thought tended toward “tragicomedy” (in a good way), since humor is the tool used (more often than not) to literally avoid tragedy.
This film is something of a little gem and firmly establishes Labaki (her second film as both star and director) after the success of Caramel. She once again shows off the beauty, strength, layers and textures of and within Lebanese women, with a totally unique twist on a relevant topic. Ravaged by war, the women of a rural town hatch devious schemes to distract the village men from focusing on their divisive cultural differences. The plans involve the local priest and Imam as well as a group of passing Ukrainian showgirls.
The performances are real and honest, providing the central heart and balance of a story full of humor and sorrow, raising a serious question in and amongst all the tomfoolery: ‘how far would you go to protect the ones you love, even from themselves?’
This is much more than just an art house film. Needless to say those who do not enjoy reading subtitles will think twice, but those looking for intelligent humour will not be disappointed.
The Bottom line
A thoroughly enjoyable watch! Labaki is developing a trend of telling very real and seemingly common stories, although very unique within their own setting and situation. In this case, one is able to look at stereotypes and highlight the futility of conflict, but at the same time reminding us not to take things too seriously. ‘Where do we go now?’ is good due to its simplicity, honesty, subtlety and intelligence. If I’d watched it in cinema, I probably would have applauded…
About Steven Benjamin:
A Capetonian – the only son, amongst four siblings, of a demure working mother and a missionary (once upon a time) for a father. Humble and God fearing, I’m a writer looking to add a different perspective whilst also telling stories on the side. I’ve lugubriously turned to writing after failing in a mental attempt to become a Formula 1 driver. I’m currently also working on my spicy debut novel, The Quiet Days!