9 days to go: Caramel (March, 30)

Caramel has been on my HD for a long time now. On this day, with the company of a beloved friend that came from another city just to spend some time with me and my broken leg, I thought it would be a good opportunity to reach the Lebanese production by director and actress Nadine Labaki. I usually love this kind of movie, the take on the lives of women in misogyny places full of ancestral prejudices. My friend didn't share my views and fell asleep soon. So, this was a movie watched in two parts.

The first one has a quiet pace of establishing the women's relations, their struggles, their daily lives in Beirut. The center point is their beauty parlour, a homely place with a shabby front sign. We see that, despite being a nice happy environment, not everything is in place - as the whole city and the place occupied by women in that society. They're so fundamental, Labaki says, but with little spectrum of action - at least officially, because they are smart and skillful to create their own ways. This fact doesn't reverse all the perversity and sadness that come from such a misogynist world. The scene in which an adult woman has to prove she is married to a guy in order to book a room for them gave such a feel of indignation and sadness. They're not married, and the place to which she has to resort in order to be able to have a little intimacy for them both is outraging and funny at the same time, as the Labaki's light, kind and accurate hand in directing establishes. 

The other half has a faster pace, after the construction of all the plots. Done that, we can walk with those women knowing them better, relating to their struggles and ways of living. All the four main women, plus aunt Rose and Lily, are so lovable, so human, so real... Labaki chose to work with no actress and actors just because of that, and it worked beautifully - without me noticing this. Just because of that, doesn't expect big emotion, lots of action and such. It is a small gem, a simple heartfelt movie about what is real on those women lives. I really don't enjoy the kind of take that ended the movie (it is one of my less favorite in the whole world, a statement of how editing and direction couldn't conclude their story). It was little disappointing, but nothing that compromised the story Labaki tells here with her strong willed and beautiful women.

Caramel. Directed and written by Nadine Labaki (et al). Cast: Nadine Labaki, Joanna
Moukarzel, Gisele Aouad, Yasmine Al Massri. France/Lebanon, 2007, Dolby Digital,
Color, 91 min.

PS: Looking at the comments on imdb.comhttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0825236/reviews?ref_=tt_urv, I came across this beautiful testimony:

A wonderful beautiful surprisingly well directed movie. It took me back to the place where I grew up, to the people I knew, to the narrow streets I hated then, and that I miss so much now. I had forgotten "la douceur de vivre" in that part of the world, how loving and supportive Lebanese people can be, regardless of their religion, background or social status. The stories of these 4 women is told with such simplicity, but yet a lot of tenderness, understanding, and forgiveness. The camera was their friend, exploring their most intimate feelings, joys and pains, but very protective too. Protective of their privacy, of their feelings, and their sadness. These 96 minutes of movie, brushed up all the callouses that had built up around my heart, and made it vibrate again, and made it dance to the rhythm of this beautiful city Beirut. Thank you Nadine for this wonderful gift, and thank you Khaled Mouzannar for making my heart and soul dance. Nicole Mishalany, Los Angeles, CA".


  1. Hey, this sounds good and empowering and it's always nice to hear such an important message coming in a woman's voice, especially one who's immersed in a culture such as this, with so many barriers to the gender. Nice one. The fact that the cast, as you say, is made of non-actors makes me more intrigued to see it. And I gotta say I'm curious about that last shot that earned your disapproval. hehe

    [ j ]

    1. I'm curious about your reaction to this movie... We never shared impressions about a similar production. I can't wait!