[13 September 2011]
PopMatters Features Editor
WHERE DO WE GO NOW?
Director: Nadine Labaki
Cast: Claude Baz Moussawbaa, Layla Hakim, Nadine Labaki, Antoinette Noufaily, Yvonne Maalouf
Country: France / Lebanon / Italy / Egypt
An enchanting, brilliant, and heartbreaking film about civil war and its indelible legacy, this Lebanese masterwork utterly slayed me. By turns romantic, funny, wrenching, and playful, Labaki’s film plays like a legend (it is basically a re-telling of Lysistrata) but has all the immediacy of real life. A tiny village is cut off from the surrounding countryside by a blown out bridge, and there is little radio or TV reception to speak of. Half of the inhabitants are Muslim, half are Christian. All have finally put aside their differences and are breaking bread together, but there is always the spectre of sectarianism creeping around them.
As violence breaks out anew in the surrounding towns, the women of the village (Christian and Muslim alike) conspire to keep their men in the dark. If they don’t know they are supposed to hate each other, then maybe they won’t! What follows is a simply wonderful series of ever more elaborate schemes to keep the men’s energies focused elsewhere. From importing hookers to hashish, the women will stop at nothing to keep their husbands and sons minds off of war. Featuring—and you’ll have to just trust me on this—a few random full-blown musical numbers for good measure. It sounds awful, but it completely works. Easily one of my favourites of the Festival.