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La graine et le mulet
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The Secret of the Grain (2007) More at IMDbPro »La graine et le mulet (original title)

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Overview

User Rating:
7.4/10   4,587 votes »
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Release Date:
12 December 2007 (Belgium) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
The Best French Film of the Year See more »
Plot:
At the port of Sète, Mr. Slimani, a tired 60-year-old, drags himself toward a shipyard job that has... See more » | Add synopsis »
Awards:
19 wins & 7 nominations See more »
NewsDesk:
(73 articles)
Film Review: ‘War Story’
 (From Variety - Film News. 1 August 2014, 11:19 PM, PDT)

Blu-ray Review: 'Couscous'
 (From CineVue. 14 April 2014, 5:55 AM, PDT)

French Media Reacts To ‘Blue Is The Warmest Color”s Cesar Snub
 (From Variety - Film News. 3 March 2014, 6:19 AM, PST)

User Reviews:
Tragicomic epic of Arab immigrant life in a French port town See more (37 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order)
Habib Boufares ... Slimane Beiji

Hafsia Herzi ... 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

Olivier Loustau ... José
Sami Zitouni ... Majid

Sabrina Ouazani ... Olfa
Mohamed Benabdeslem ... Riadh
Hatika Karaoui ... Latifa
Henri Rodriguez ... Henri
Nadia Taoul ... Sarah (as Nadia Taouil)
Jeanne Corporon ... La banquière
Francis Arnaud ... Monsieur Gruault
Henri Cohen ... Claude Dorner
Violaine de Carne ... Madeleine Dorner (as Violaine De Carné)
Hélène Geier ... La douanière (as Hélene Geier)
Ezzadine Bouzid ... Aziz
Salah Eldin Mohamed ... Salah
Rabah Khalfa ... Rabah
Idwar Iskandar ... Idwar
Benhaïssa Ahouari ... Aïssa (as Benaïssa Ahaouari)
Rosalie Symon ... Marie
Carole Franck ... La voisine de Guy
Gilbert Rouvière ... Le compagnon de la banquière
Nourdine Midoun ... Thomas
Abderrahmane Zeroual ... Fouad
Khadidja Taoul ... Madame Jilani
Claude Geraud ... La mouette
Mélèze Bouzid ... Azza
José Rodriguez ... Houcine
Axel Yahimi ... Maxime
Safia Khanchaf ... Safia
François Rodriguez ... Hakim
Nadia Daïf ... Nadia
Flore Hamidani ... Sonia
Sylvain Phan ... Farzit
Tarik Alhakeue ... Jeune de la cité
Mohamed Amry ... Jeune de la cité
Kader Boulanouar ... Jeune de la cité
Magid Dahou ... Jeune de la cité
Abdelazaid Douich ... Jeune de la cité
Adil Iben El Madani ... Jeune de la cité
Brahim Oulmadani ... Jeune de la cité
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Paloma Casanova ... Une invitée du bateau
Gilles Matheron ... Un invité du bateau
Doris Stern ... Une invitée du bateau
Salah Zaït ... Un invité du bateau
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Directed by
Abdellatif Kechiche 
 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Abdellatif Kechiche 

Produced by
Claude Berri .... producer
Pierre Grunstein .... executive producer
Nathalie Rheims .... associate producer
 
Cinematography by
Lubomir Bakchev 
 
Film Editing by
Ghalia Lacroix 
Camille Toubkis 
 
Casting by
Morgane Bourhis 
Anne Fremiot 
Monya Galbi 
 
Production Design by
Benoît Barouh 
 
Art Direction by
Christophe Couzon 
 
Costume Design by
Maria Beloso-Hall 
 
Makeup Department
Severine Marla Levy .... hair creations
Jean-Christophe Roger .... key makeup artist
France Rossi .... key hair stylist
 
Production Management
Kader Bouallaga .... assistant unit manager
Anne Farrer .... assistant unit manager
Benjamin Hess .... unit production manager
Sophie Hossard .... assistant production manager
Benoît Pilot .... post-production manager
Benoît Pilot .... production manager
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Morgane Bourhis .... second assistant director
Carlo Da Fonseca Parsotam .... first assistant director
Raphaël De Vellis .... second assistant director
Monya Galbi .... second assistant director
 
Art Department
Christophe Couzon .... first assistant decorator
Jérôme Perrier .... carpenter
 
Sound Department
Eric Armbruster .... sound
Mélanie Blouin .... assistant sound editor
Yannick Boulot .... sound recordist
Nicolas Bourgeois .... additional sound editor
Roberto Cappannelli .... sound re-recording mixer
Jérôme Chenevoy .... boom operator
Nicolas Delcroix .... boom operator
Marc Doisne .... sound re-recording mixer
Xavier Drouault .... foley artist
Jean-Paul Hurier .... sound mixer
Olivier Laurent .... sound editor
Eric LeGarçon .... dialog editor
Gréggory Poncelet .... sound recordist (as Grégory Poncelet)
Xavier Prêtre .... boom operator
Nicolas Waschkowski .... sound
 
Visual Effects by
Aurélie Villard .... CG artist: 2D
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Gabriele Buti .... assistant camera
Sofian El Fani .... camera operator
Bertrand Etienne .... assistant camera
Geoff Millet .... electrician
Mathieu Normand .... first assistant camera: test shoots
Olivier Regent .... gaffer
Mathieu Szpiro .... electrician
Fabrice Sébille .... Steadicam operator (as Fabrice Sebille)
 
Editorial Department
Bénédicte Cazauran .... assistant editor
Nicolas Criqui .... digital conformation
 
Music Department
Christian Chevalier .... music clearance
 
Other crew
Dominique Arcé .... script supervisor
Sylvie Coen .... general counsel
François Guerrar .... press attache (as François Hassan Guerrar)
Nicole Heitzmann .... production accountant
Emile Ploix .... assistant production accountant
 

Production CompaniesDistributors
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Additional Details

Also Known As:
"La graine et le mulet" - France (original title)
"Couscous" - International (English title), UK
"Grain and Mullet" - International (English title) (literal title)
See more »
Runtime:
151 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

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 »
Movie Connections:
References Finding Nemo (2003)See more »

FAQ

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26 out of 33 people found the following review useful.
Tragicomic epic of Arab immigrant life in a French port town, 10 May 2008
Author: Chris Knipp from Berkeley, California

Abdellatif Kechiche, who is also an actor, stands with Turkish-German director Faith Akim as the preeminent director dealing with diaspora experience in western Europe. He was born in Tunisia but was brought to France at the age of six and grew up in Nice. 'La graine et le mulet,' the title, refers to (mullet) fish couscous (grain) and Kechiche has said he's as stubborn as the mullet. The action is in the southern French port town of Sète. Most of the cast are non-actors.

Though marred by a jittery camera in intimate scenes, over-close closeups, and some sequences that are allowed to run too long, 'The Secret of the Grain' is nonetheless a triumph, an emotionally powerful, overwhelmingly rich, epic-feeling tragi-comedy that overflows with wonderful performances, evokes a host of masters including Jean Renoir and the Italian neorealists, and fairly bursts off the screen with its loving and complex portraits of Magreban society in France and the harsh world in which it struggles and survives. The main focus for all this is food: two grand meals, one intimate and familial, the other in a projected couscous restaurant on an old boat where friends and family and local officials are all invited to show off cuisine and entertainment in an effort to prove that an old man at the end of his tether can, with the help of his family and friends, make a go of it in a new business, against all odds. Kechiche and his cast focus not so much on any plot-line arc, though there are dramatic turns of events right up to the end, but on the way they work as an ensemble to make each moment come alive. In the somewhat stilted, over-polished and over-sophisticated and often dry world of French cinema, it's not hard to see how the rough, irresistible energy of the world Kechiche brings to the screen here would seem a welcome tonic. And, it has to be admitted, giving the same very gifted Arab director the run of the Césars twice can't help but be soothing to the consciences of the left-liberal intellectuals who tend to dominate the world of French film criticism. It doesn't hurt that 'Secret' is offered by Pathé and has the imprimatur of the prestigious producer Claude Berri.

Kechiche's previous (and second) film 'L'Esquive' ("The Avoidance"), retitled in English 'Games of Love and Chance' (after the 18th-century playwright Marivaux's work which is central to the plot) which won four Césars, including Best Director and Best Film, was about the young mixed population of children of immigrants who live in the ghetto-like suburban Paris 'banlieue.' This new story is a homage to the "fathers," the generation of Kechicne's parents, who immigrated to France forty or fifty years ago.

Hence the protagonist is the sad but determined Slimane Beiji (Habib Boufares), who as the movie begins is told by his boss at the port shipyard workshop that, now sixty-one, he is no longer "rentable" (profitable), his work is too slow, he doesn't keep up with the schedule on projects. Threatened with no benefits because earlier in his 35 years at the site he was off the books and now offered only half-time status, he quits. He lives in a room in a little hotel run by his lover, Latifa (Hatika Karaoui), whose daughter Rhn (Hafsia Herzi) considers Slimane her own dad and defends him against his mean sons by his ex-wife Souad (Bouraouia Marzouk). He owes her alimony, but brings fish instead. The sons say he ought to go back to the 'bled,' the old country; they want to be rid of him.

Slimane's eldest son Hamid (Abdelhamid Aktouche) is married to a Russian woman. His family evidently know about his philandering and especially his affair with the deputy mayor's wife--the need to conceal which becomes a plot pivot-point.

While Slimane is alone in his little hotel room Souad has a big fish couscous dinner with their offspring and their French husbands and children. This sequence is irritating at times for its clamorous, shifting closeups and its cacophonous talk, but at the same time the way this lively, tumultuous gathering in close quarters has been shot is a tour-de-force of complex naturalism. When the sons bring Slimane a dish of the fish couscous, he gets the idea of enlisting his ex-wife to be the cook in a restaurant he might establish in an abandoned ship. Rhm goes with him to the bank and city offices to present the project where they're politely received, but not given the green light. This is where the idea comes to give a grand dinner on the ship to convince everyone Slimane and company can make a go of it. A lot of the second half of the movie consists of this dinner.

The naturalism of the sequence may be suggested by the fact that Bouraouia Marzouk actually did a lot of the cooking for 100 people for the dinner. The theft of Slimane's Moubylette is a conscious homage to De Sica's 'Bicycle Thief' ('Ladri di biciclette'). 'La graine et le mulet' is a thrilling, amusing, moving, excruciating screen experience that takes Abdellatif Kechiche to a new level of accomplishment, but the vagaries of his methods will continue to create enemies as well as admirers as he goes along. As Jacques Mandelbaum wrote in 'Le Monde,' 'The Secret of the Grain' "mixes romance and social chronicle, melodrama and comedy, the triviality of the everyday and the grandeur of tragedy. A simple family meal becomes a classic sequence, a table of old immigrants becomes a Greek chorus, a belly dance a high point of erotic vibration and dramatic tension." For all its flaws, this movie packs a huge wallop and brings Adbellatif Kechiche to the brink of greatness.

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