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|Index||62 reviews in total|
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
Without reading any summary or comment on the movie I just went to see
it. I didn't know it was in Lebanese, I was attracted by the promising
name of Caramel.
What I saw was a potpourri of emotions and languages, I don't speak Lebanese at all, but it was funny to recognize all the different influences in their language, due to the colonialism. The protagonist and director is a breath-taking and very convincing actress, I had no doubt all the ladies of the cast were good friends and would have hung out all their lives. The storyline is kept simple and clear so even if you don't follow the subtitles, you easily understand the movie. I don't like to compare it with any other movie I saw, but speaking of colors and emotions it reminded me of Almodovar's movies, dedicated to the women in his life. Even though I'd have preferred to see more of the name giving caramel, for about two hours I was transported into the oriental world of spices, taxi drivers, aunties, grandmas, uncles, nieces', sisters and brothers, living, laughing and mainly eating together. The movie combines a very traditional Lebanon with very modern questions, emancipated women and not to forget love. Leaving the cinema I felt loved and happy, I strongly recommend it!
Nadine Labaki: perhaps not a familiar name, not yet. You are certain to
hear more of her, well beyond this report about her first film,
"Caramel." The young Lebanese beauty is not only the star of this
heartwarming and unusual movie, but also its director and co-writer.
Unusual? It sure is, a contemporary film taking place in Beirut without any reference to the wars tearing the city apart for decades now. (There is a parallel here with another excellent film making its U.S. appearance, "The Band's Visit," of an Egyptian-Israeli encounter set deliberately outside the political context.) Unusual? Amazingly so when you realize, having witnessed an extraordinary ensemble performance, that all but two of the cast members have no acting experience.It's all great acting by non-actors, and you wouldn't know it without a press release.
"Sex in the City" with brains, realism, and without affectation, "Caramel" tells the story of five women in a Beirut beauty salon, their lives and dreams. The tone is simple, intimate, the characters are different from each other, but all likable and real. "Caramel" is a movie to enjoy; beyond its vitality and good humor, it offers the viewer the acquaintance of everyday, believable people you can care about.
The title refers to the pliant caramelized sugar used for hair removal, material that can be used for good (removing hair) or ill (inflicting pain on a lover's wife, who ends up in the wrong salon). It is something "sweet and salt, sugary and sour, of the delicious sugar that can burn and hurt you," Labaki has said.
The director - whose theme and work are reminiscent of Pedro Almodovar's early films - is Layale, the owner of the salon, a woman in her early 30s, who "should be married" by now, but instead, she carries on a passionate (for her) affair with a married policeman. Layale is Christian, her best friend working in the salon, Nisrine, is a Moslem woman of 28, about to get married, but she is facing a daunting obstacle. The role is played memorably by one of the film's many amateur actors, Yasmine Al Masri.
Also in the salon, Rima, a 24-year-old tomboy (played by Joanna Moukarzel, in real life "business manager with an electrical appliance company"!), who is quietly struggling with her growing interest in women. It is one of the many glories of "Caramel" how her friends literally look the other way when Rima - very much in love - cuts the hair of a beautiful stranger (Siham Fatmeh Safa, who should be a model and an actress, but is neither).
Among the many fascinating characters: Jamale, a customer who virtually lives in the salon, a woman in denial of and battling her age; Lili, a crazy aunt, who collects parking tickets from windshields; and the men in the cast - relegated to supporting roles, but not belittled or presented in a hostile manner. It's not so much a "women's picture" as a film for and about people.
With splendid cinematography by Yves Sehnaoui, and appealing music by Khaled Mouzanar, "Caramel" completed production work in 2006, one week before the most recent bombing of Beirut began.
I just saw this film in the International Film Festival in Brasilia,
Brazil. I thought one more non-lebanese comment might actually be
I gave it a 8 out of 10 because I'm very fussy about giving 9's and 10's to movies. It is a great movie... enchanting... beautiful...it feels homely and intimate quite fast. The acting is good... especially of the director/actress Nadine Labaki.
One cannot avoid being seduced by this woman's eyes and beauty. Labaki is a stunner. She is so great in her role, best actress in the movie. Her character comes across very believably... and those eyes ! I recommend seeing this movie... and I'd keep an eye on future projects from Director/Actress Nadine Labaki.
This is one of the few moments of my life where I could enjoy a movie
without reading sub titles. This time it is not Russian, not Swedish,
not Danish, not German and not Spanish. It is an art movie in my native
The lovely acting of all the team, the superb cinematography of Yves Sehnaoui and the charming music of Khaled Mouzanar all joined to make a movie to remember.
This is a movie about woman's inner being; men are in the background and the women's disorders are all exposed in a very elegant way. Uncertainty of life, sexuality, marriage, mid life crisis and elderly all put together in a colorful plot of innocent people.
In Caramel, we also see Christian and Muslim women living together, working together, truly loving and supporing each other. Thanks to Nadine Labaki for this message during a period of secterian conflicts.
The Last scene of the 2 ladies holding hands is a painting. I can't wait to get it on DVD. This will sit at the heart of my art movie collection.
AMAZING!!! so subtle .. so refined .... so touchy ... so genuine....
Some parts of the movie could be titled " Oriental Sex and City" , yet
nothing compares to Caramel ..... Living in Beirut but very often in
the Netherlands, I am sure that the movie would be a big hit in
Amsterdam. I recommended it to so many friends abroad living in
different countries and the feedback was unanimous : just amazing !!
The beauty of all the characters combined with the oriental scents and
the pot-pourri of the nicest feelings that drive the life of human
beings could not be pictured in a nicest way!!! thanks again and again
to all the protagonists and to the Director.
PS: Music is just fantastic !!!!
This movie is about friendship. With a beautiful narration style, the movie focuses on the most ordinary and mundane people and follows them in their every day life. Although every one of them is dealing with significant challenges, a deep sense of love, friendship and social consciousness allows them to transcend their daily toils. The movie shatters any prejudices about sectarianism, Muslim versus Christian, young versus old, pro-West versus pro-Arab, and shows a Lebanese society where different cultures can hold on to their differing norms and traditions yet co-exist beautifully. This is the Lebanon I have always known. The movie helps dispel stereotypes about Middle-Easterners and promotes tolerance and friendship. Do not miss out on this great movie.
A very good impression was left in me after viewing Caramel, on the
stories, the scenario, the acting, the comedy/drama smooth transitions,
the cinematography... It was all very impressive, a well made movie,
something the Lebanese cinematography has been missing for a long time.
Most of all innovative for the usual oriental mood. A excessive dose of reality coupled with genuine laughing moments, made Caramel rise above the usual, traditional Lebanese movie making. And last but not least, great acting. I know people don't like to compare here, but I can say that the acting was altogether, as a result, above anything else I've seen in Lebanon's movie history.
The one thing that lacked in Caramel was a great revelation of some sort. Maybe that's just what I wished to see. There was a couple of discreet ones, but I think the intention of the movie was to project a hidden reality to most people, and it succeeded in doing so.
Congratulations to Nadine Labaki and all the team behind Caramel, go see Caramel, a wonderful experience, I will be waiting anxiously for Nadine's next wonder!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
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.
I just saw the movie yesterday evening. I was really impressed. I was
mainly impressed with the overall quality of the movie. I think it will
appeal to Lebanese and foreigners, men and women.
If you're Lebanese, just stop reading and go see the movie! I'm sure you'll love it, and I'm sure you'll be sitting in the theater making analogies to people you know who are similar in character to one of the women in the movie. If you're a woman, I bet you will relate to at least one of them!
If you're not Lebanese, also just go see it whenever it's released in your country! I'm sure you'll also relate to the characters but in addition, you'll have the opportunity to see the world from a different perspective, a Lebanese woman's perspective.
The movie is full of emotions, it will make you smile, laugh, and cry. Nadine Labaki managed to balance these emotions very successfully throughout the movie.
Congratulations Nadine on a job well done!
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