The Secret of the Grain (2007)
"La graine et le mulet" (original title)

Unrated  |   |  Drama  |  12 December 2007 (France)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 5,225 users   Metascore: 83/100
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At the port of Sète, Mr. Slimani, a tired 60-year-old, drags himself toward a shipyard job that has become more and more difficult to cope with as the years go by. He is a divorced father ... See full summary »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Habib Boufares ...
Slimane Beiji
Farida Benkhetache ...
Abdelhamid Aktouche ...
Bouraouïa Marzouk ...
Cyril Favre ...
Leila D'Issernio ...
Abelkader Djeloulli ...
Bruno Lochet ...
Sami Zitouni ...
Mohamed Benabdeslem ...
Hatika Karaoui ...


At the port of Sète, Mr. Slimani, a tired 60-year-old, drags himself toward a shipyard job that has become more and more difficult to cope with as the years go by. He is a divorced father who forces himself to stay close to his family despite the schisms and tensions that are easily sparked off and that financial difficulties make even more intense. He is going through a delicate period in his life and, recently, everything seems to make him feel useless: a failure. He wants to escape from it all and set up his own restaurant. However, it appears to be an unreachable dream given his meager, irregular salary that is not anywhere near enough to supply what he needs to realize his ambition. But he can still dream and talk about it with his family in particular. A family that gradually gives its support to this project, which comes to symbolize the means to a better life. Thanks to its ingeniousness and hard work, this dream soon becomes a reality...or almost.... Written by Venice Film Festival

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It takes will, courage and determination to realise a dream. But most of all it takes family See more »




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Release Date:

12 December 2007 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Secret of the Grain  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$9,864 (USA) (2 January 2009)


$86,356 (USA) (27 February 2009)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Shooting was supposed to start in the summer of 2005 but one of the leading actors was sick, which resulted in a major delay. Thus, filming actually started on 5 September 2005 and was still running by 16 January 2006. The set was on a boat in the port of Sète for at least six weeks from October to December 2006. Outside temperatures were very low, as opposed to what they should have been if schedule could have been held. This led the production to set up large tents near the boat with heating systems for the actors and extras to remain comfortable between takes. See more »


Julia: [talking to Slimane about her husband] Is that a family man ?
Serguei: Never there for his kid.
See more »


References Finding Nemo (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

An extraordinarily different film because of its ethnicity and real-time filming
11 April 2008 | by (Fremantle, Australia) – See all my reviews

Diane and I attended this wonderful film in Fremantle this morning and both of us left the theater at its conclusion realising that we had seen an unusual film from an unusual ethnic angle and that the director and actors had completed a superb work.

I adore our Australian films because many of them explore the mundane drama of quiet ordinary life and this film is no exception even though it is French rather than Australian. I guess Hollywood does not believe viewers are sensitive enough to pay to see domestic drama and that the subject matter must always be "bigger than Ben Hurr" but our movies as well as many European movies have proved that the examination of quiet aspects of everyday life can provide extremely compelling material for contemporary films.

IMDb commentators found it off-putting to watch long film sequences about potty training, marital squabbles and restaurant scenes; however, this is the stuff of myriad similar domestic situations that we are all familiar with. The genius being that the director can make these scenes rich enough to watch. Diane and I both believe he did this admirably as well as providing much to discuss and reflect upon later.

We both found it different and endearing that we were allowed into the lives of people and their situations that would be closed to us without this delightful film. Yes, I used the adjective "delightful"; the scenes of domesticity were enlightening and compellingly endearing because we are inundated with Western examples of the genre but few (such as in this film) of other ethnic examples.

A film that should not be missed!

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