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

7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 4,383 users   Metascore: 83/100
Reviews: 37 user | 101 critic | 16 from Metacritic.com

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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Title: The Secret of the Grain (2007)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Habib Boufares ...
Slimane Beiji
...
Rym
Farida Benkhetache ...
Karima
Abdelhamid Aktouche ...
Hamid
Alice Houri ...
Julia
Bouraouïa Marzouk ...
Souad
Cyril Favre ...
Serguei
Leila D'Issernio ...
Lilia
Abelkader Djeloulli ...
Kader
Bruno Lochet ...
Mario
...
José
Sami Zitouni ...
Majid
...
Olfa
Mohamed Benabdeslem ...
Riadh
Hatika Karaoui ...
Latifa
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

12 December 2007 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Secret of the Grain  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

$86,356 (USA) (27 February 2009)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Quotes

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

Connections

References Finding Nemo (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Prolonged Conversation
9 September 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

THE SECRET OF THE GRAIN (LA GRAINE ET LE MULET) as written and directed by Abdellatif Kechiche offers the viewer a different version of the importance of family and the need to bond for survival. Kechiche is known for casting his films with unknown actors (or even fist time actors) and while some may view this as self-indulgent exercise in proving that a film can be made without the aid of a talented cast, others will appreciate the fine performances he is able to draw from both unknowns (Habib Boufares) and stars on the rise (Hafsia Herzi).

The story is fairly straightforward (despite the fact that it takes 2 1/2 hours to tell!): in the Southern France port city of Sète, populated with many French-speaking Arab immigrants who eke out a living repairing boats and fishing, lives senior citizen Slimane Beiji (Habib Boufares) and his friends and family - an ex-wife chronically angry about missed alimony payments, an adulterer son, and girlfriend who satisfies him and also has a daughter Rym (Hafsia Herzl) who adores him. Slimane struggles with his job, has his hours cut back severely, and together with his friends who also are suffering economically, bond more strongly. Eventually Slimane comes upon the idea of establishing a restaurant housed in a deserted old ship that he purchases and with the help from his family and his friends (especially supported by Rym) he opens his restaurant that features the fish with couscous recipe of his ex-wife.

The reason this too-long film ultimately satisfies is the completely spontaneous atmosphere created by director Kechiche: the dialogue feels completely improvised, as though we happen to be passing by Sète and overheard a colony of down and out immigrants from North Africa transform their fates. It may take a lot of patience to sit through the first half of the film, but the end result is rewarding.

Grady Harp


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