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Six women in Beirut seek love, marriage, and companionship and find duty, friendship, and possibility. Four work at a salon: Nisrine, engaged to Bassam, with a secret she shares with her co-workers; Jamale, a divorced mother of teens, a part-time model, fearing the encroachment of time; Rima, always in pants, attracted to Siham, a client who smiles back; Layale, in love with a married man, willing to drop everything at a honk of his horn. There's also Rose, a middle-aged seamstress, who cares for Lili, old and facing dementia. Rose has a suitor; Layale has an admirer on the police force. Is delight a possibility? Is caramel a sweet or an instrument of pain? Written by
This was the official submission of Lebanon for Best Foreign Film in 2007. Though the ones selected appear a bit repetitive (seems to be a war theme; there is no good reason "Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days" was not selected except for that), this is not really "best film of the year" quality. This might lead to some disappointment for those who thought it was, as a few comments seem to.
But, it is a good movie. It has been compared to "Beauty Shop," which I have not seen, so I don't know. The film, though foreign, is rather universal in many ways all the same -- the cell phone, for instance, is familiar presence. And, the women who work at the shop all seem pretty independent, not as traditional as some members of their family. There is also someone who brought to mind a young Melissa Etheridge (in more ways than one). The older single mom fighting aging and struggling to get acting jobs also seems familiar. One can imagine this film, e.g., taking place in Spain with little altered.
But, from my limited knowledge, Lebanon is fairly cosmopolitan vis-a-vis various other places in the Middle East. And, there are reminders, including the owner of the shop living with her parents, and the problems a young Muslim woman ready to get married has when her finance doesn't know she isn't a virgin. The mixture of Christian and Muslim also takes an added meaning given the setting. This adds foreign flavor to a film that still remains largely universal.
Anyway, as to the film itself. It is an ensemble piece, with the director/star having a slightly superior role, though the older seamstress that must deal with a mentally retarded aunt or whatever also has a lot of screen time. The owner of the shop is having an affair with a married man while a lovelorn traffic cop pines for her. This latter part is touching, and the actor here (as does an older gentleman who favors the seamstress) is charming in his small role. Such touches often make movies, and it helps this one.
Overall, I cared for these people, and thought the performances were good and true to life. Someone noted the film's stories ultimately are a bit thin. This is probably true, but they are good all the same, and in some ways quite touching. I was not wowed or anything, but simply thought it was a good film. Not "best" material, but no need for that to enjoy things.
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