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I am a big fan of IMDb. I always come here for reference to see movie ratings and reviews. But I never had an account--at least not until today. I just came back from watching "Where Do We Go Now?" and I am completely blown away. I signed up just to write a review and to tell who ever reads this to go and watch this movie. I laughed. I cried. I connected with the characters. I loved the music, the mood and the message of the movie. I will not reveal anything about the storyline so as not to spoil it for you. But trust me on this, you will certainly not regret it. Nadine Labaki has succeeded in orchestrating a masterpiece of a movie. At last, a Lebanese attempt that makes it worthwhile.
Lebanese cinematic talent has not been given much room to grow. In a
country where art is the least concern, cinema has found it especially
hard to take off. However, a stream of Lebanese movies has been finding
its way to our theaters. Some like Nadine Labaki's previous movie,
Caramel, were a huge hit with viewers. Others were not as lucky. But
the fact remains that the Lebanese audience is hungry for movies that
describe its society, its problems, its worries and woes.
And then comes Nadine Labaki's new movie: Where Do We Go Now, with its Lebanese title: W Halla2 La wein (also in French: Et Maintenant, On Va Ou?) The premise of the movie is quite simple and for many Lebanese, worry-inducing for fear of overuse of clichés. The overall basis of the plot is the coexistence of Lebanese Muslims and Christians in one community, sometimes peacefully and other times not. Many, like yours truly, felt the issue was overdone. Maybe not in cinema but in everyday life. Most of us are sick of being bombarded with commentary about the struggles that face our very diverse community. But this is not the case in Where Do We Go Now.
An unnamed village during the later part of the 20th century has its only connection with the outside world in the form of a very rudimentary bridge, around which land-mines had been planted and never removed. Even TV reception is very poor to the village and the movie begins with a few youngsters searching for a broadcast signal to set up a TV night for the town-folks. This village is also a religiously divided community where the Church and the Mosque are only a house apart. And more often than not, the people live together happily. But as it is, and despite barely having any access to news from the outside world, the men of this village start to confront each other in violent ways. Little things that would pass unnoticed cause them to explode, signaling the anger they've been bottling in. And it is then that the few women of the village start to devise plots to keep the men busy, entertained and get their minds off being violent. These plans will vary from fake miracles to putting hashish in cakes. But these women will go to every measure possible and break every limit imposed on them by society to keep their town together. And it is for these women, representing a vast majority of our Lebanese mothers, that this movie is so aptly dedicated.
Nadine Labaki, director of the movie and starring as Amal, is astonishing as always. You, really, cannot see her eyes on screen and not be mesmerized. She's simply entrancing, even when she doesn't speak. Then how about when she delivers a tour de force performance as one of those women, who happens to be in love with a man from the town's other religion. But to be perfectly honest, the accolades one ought to give Labaki are not for her acting but for her directing. Never have I imagined a Lebanese movie can turn out this good and she makes it seem effortless. Her camera shots, her focus on details, her keen eye all of this combine to give you a cinematic experience that will entrance you. This movie, like Caramel, features mostly unknown faces and all of them deliver as well. It is hard to believe and yet in retrospect so evident that such acting can come out of common people that we all meet on the street.
Where Do We Go Now is a movie of such epic proportions that these "unknown" actors and actresses (mostly actresses) deliver performances that are so subtly nuanced, so exquisitely flavored and so astonishingly well-done that they would put the best actresses and actors of Hollywood to shame. Yes, I have said it. The score of the movie is chilling and haunting and wonderfully executed by Nadine's husband Khaled Mouzanar. The movie also features a few highly intelligent songs, written by Tania Saleh. And let's talk about the script. What an ingenious way to tackle the subject at hand. Not only did Nadine Labaki not fall to any cliché known to us as a Lebanese community, but she managed to introduce them in a subtle comical way that would make us laugh at ourselves for uttering or doing them in the first place.
The script is so strong it will turn you bipolar. Yes, lithium is advised to be taken at the door while going in. Why? Never have I laughed so hysterically one moment and just wanted to cry the other. And then after being utterly devastated, it brings you back to laughter. The movie plays with you like a ping pong ball. And you cannot but love every moment of it.
I was talking to my friend the day before we went to watch Where Do We Go Now, which happened to be the day it won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival, and she said: "I'm very cautiously optimistic about this. I'm not letting my expectations overreach because I don't want to be disappointed." Well, I'm pretty sure she agrees with me on this: Where Do We Go Now brings out things in you that you didn't even know you had. It brings out the best in you, as a Lebanese, sitting in that cinema chair for ninety minutes. And you need the best of the best to do that. Nadine Labaki, you deserve more than the few minutes of applause the people in the movie theater gave you. You deserve a full blown standing ovation. You have done the impossible. Again. Lebanese cinema has no excuse but to overreach for excellence now. And this movie deserves an Oscar win. Cheers to our mothers.
I watched this movie at the Toronto Film Festival. We woke up early on
Sunday morning to watch it at 9:00 a.m. and to be greeted by Ms. Labaki
herself. The movie was engaging, the music was wonderful, and the
actors, some of them amateurs, transported us to their village life,
successes, and tribulations in so many ways. The audience had not time
to exchange any opinions, but at the end, we all rose and gave Ms.
Labaki an standing ovation.
I left the theater greatly touched, happy, sad, and alive. I'm not an expert, but as a mother and as a woman, I hope Ms. Labaki's message of love, peace, and tolerance I took from her work can reach and change many. Good luck Ms. Labaki and thank you.
Excellent setup, excellent directing, excellent acting, Excellent movie
..... a few flaws of course ..... but as a whole the movie is well done
and well targeted with an amazing message so eloquently conveyed that
so deeply touches the hearts.
I Read some reviews by people getting offended from the somewhat engaged references to religion, well, they are the main target of the movie... when the time comes, a little openness is whats needed and what might drive us to be more attentive to the better angels of our nature (just what Nadine's circle of women strive so desperately to tell us all through the movie)
Nadine Labaki proves she is a talented director with a lot to say. she breaks many "regional" taboos, like the use of candid language, only to be honest in the messages she wants to deliver and the picture she wants to reflect. In a way, due to lack of film production in the region, society has evolved and changed a lot in the past few decades and now we need someone like Nadine to provide a true mirror and a strong message. Dealing with the question of religion in a country that suffered from civil war is not an easy task, yet it is done in a subtle way that doesn't offend anyone. Delivering messages of the role of woman is also presented delicately and a nice sense of humour, thus ensuring the message is spelled out clearly without any preaching. It is a very positive film, well crafted in all aspects, scenario, shooting and most importantly, depicting the characteristics that makes any society special, yet part of the eternal human quest for a better life. There was a bit of too much melodrama, but in defense of the film - and from first hand experience, this is the way mothers lament and wail when losing a child. It is a very Mediterranean thing; perhaps the Italians and Greek can understand this element best. I avoided reading any reviews before drafting mine in order not to be influenced by any thoughts. In short, it is a well done film that revives hope of cultural life sprouting again from this region and reaching the world. Well done Nadine, looking forward to see your next film.
I watched "where do we go now" on Monday at the Stockholm Film
Festival. The movie left me speechless, it was simply one of the best
movies I have watched in my life. The Lebanese culture, the powerful
women, the beauty of diversity, such a great creativity and the actors
are people you may meet next door. It was really amazing. I am already
a big fan of Nadine Labaki! You have to watch the movie, young, old,
man, woman, coming from anywhere in the world, there is something that
you can identify yourself with regardless of your race, culture or
God bless our mothers and the powerful Lebanese women! Such a beautiful mind you are Nadine! I have never been prouder of being Lebanese!
The storyline on this wonderful small film shot in Lebanon and other
locations, is that the women of this part of the middle east are just
fed up with the senseless death of their sons, brothers and fathers,
due to religious sectarianism. The steps they go to, to end this
insanity are wonderfully funny, and very much to the point of what is
needed to break the cycle of violence.
The script is a gem. The team of writers, including director and co-star Nadine Labaki, is just great. It pulls us from comedy through tenderness and tragedy. The acting troupe is very good, very believable. It seems to be shot on location, sets are real enough to make you believe you are there.
The cinematography is great, really showing the town as it is, and placing you very much in the middle of the scenes. Nice lighting, color balance is warm and soft, giving a very homey look to the locations.
It's all too seldom that we who are not in the middle of a internal civil war such as this get to see a window into the world that is trying to hang on to it's sanity, not yet having fallen over the precipice into full scale chaos.
This is a very wonderful, funny, and poignant window into that world, told by people who are very close to the real situation. It could not have been invented by a California filmmaker.
It falls into the classes of films like "The Debt" and "of Gods and Men", stories of middle eastern conflict that are not set pieces, or play to western stereotypes of what is happening there, though it is much 'lighter' and less of a drama than those. This has much more light hearted nature than those films.
9 stars out of ten, for wonderful original storyline, wonderful unknown cast, good acting, great cinematography, nice weaving of humour and pathos, contemporary story, without being trite, solid editing. Also just a good movie, beyond all the technical nonsense.
So if you have read this far, saw those other films, and liked them, you likely will like this better. Again, hard to imagine you will be disappointed in this gem.
Where Do We Go Now by the Lebanese-Canadian director Nadine Labike is
set in a war-torn village in Lebanon. The backdrop of the movie is the
Christian-Muslim conflict plaguing the region at large, and its effect
on the mixed population of the village dwellers. The comedy-drama
focuses on a group of women and their antics to keep the men off each
other's throats. It starts off in an almost utopian setting, with the
view of the village mosque and church at dusk in a single frame,
symbolizing the ideal of peaceful existence between the Christians and
The movie premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and won the people's choice award at the Toronto International Film Festival. Nadine, who also acts in the film, may be accused by some quarters of trivializing the conflict between the Abrahamic faiths with her comic take on religion, complete with a climax reminiscent of a Cheech and Chong flick. However, the tone of the film remains somber throughout, and the viewer is often reminded of the toll of the conflict on both sides of the religious divide, with glimpses of intermittent sectarian strife.
The intelligent dialogue, interspersed with repartee between the female characters is refreshingly entertaining, offering a peek inside the (mostly) segregated Arab society and humanizing a population segment often portrayed as meek and subservient to the other sex.
Nadine's second directorial venture after Caramel continues to court controversy, with an ending which Labaki acknowledges might "raise a lot of polemics. It might upset people who are a bit fanatic or too conservative..." By the end of the film, Nadine is sure to rouse some thought-provoking questions in the viewers mind, fulfilling the obligation to her craft and pushing the envelope. Where Do We Go Now has been chosen as the Lebanon's 2011 entry in the best foreign language film category for the Academy Awards.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
From the very first scene , you feel that is going to be a beautiful
movie. You can't pinpoint exactly the source of beauty , it's all the
factors combined. Scenery , actors, cinematography . there is a feeling
of warmth and strange familiarity fills you up. The same pace of Muslim
and Christian women marching to their common cemetery ( in which their
loved ones are buried after they were killed in a religious raised
conflict ) put you in front of a lovely Lebanese portrait in the first
page of a story about a group
Of villagers, who share everything but religion. The story of the wit and wisdom of this village women who try to maintain the peace the peace in so many desperate ways .The beauty , simplicity and classiness of the those women characters , makes you love them , think , laugh and cry with them. Watching the villagers peaceful moments and love and friendship between the women , makes you wonder, how one day did they kill one another?! Amal, Fatma Yevon , sayda , aida , afaf,.. all happily coexisting Christian and Muslim women , happily coexisting, sharing their lives , so close, they even tease one another of their religious differences .( which makes you wonder , why can't men handle matters in the same manner and that women should really rule the world!).
In the middle of that , we find Rabie , a young Muslim painter who helps amal redecorating her café' and falling in love with her as well, amale feels the same , but each one is stifled by being from a different faith and fear of igniting the war in the village again.
One night , while they were all watching TV in the wilderness, there were news about Muslim and Christian armed conflicts in Lebanon , which faced by a subconscious or may be collective conscious attempt by the women to distract everyone from it, by creating little quarrels ! as they just before decided that what we don't know doesn't hurt us and burned the newspapers coming from town!
The tension between the two teams ( Muslims and Christians) piles up and erupts by the accident of breaking the cross in the very old church and the goats entering the always opened mosque . leaving each one to blame the other. The women decide there is something must be done by any means whatsoever to prevent another potential war in the village , killing more of their sons, brothers and husbands.
They hire Ukrainian dancers who happens to be in town in order to keep them distracted!
Things seem to run as planned , till a fight happens between the two teams again and young nessim is murdered afterwards outside the village ., leaving his mother with two murdered sons to mourn. And here comes one of the most beautiful heart felt scenes I've ever seen on screen , when nessim's mother cries and blame virgin marry for her son's death.
This scene changes the momentum and rocks you , forcing you to think about all the stupidity of the human being and his intolerance . while respecting his mother for hiding the news to save the village from another wave of blood.
You find yourself hopeful again when the rest of the women stop mourning and pursue their plan of keeping those kids ( men) from killing each other. Using hashish and belly dancing!
When all of those attempts didn't seem to work for good, they decide to teach them a lesson , each women wakes up and fakes a sudden conversion to her / husband son! Just to raise a direct question: now you live with the enemy under one roof, what r u going to do?! Should we kill each other?!
Nadine Labky seemingly effortlessly manages too make you live a journey , a beautiful story and tackles a very sensitive issue in a simple yet deep , all with a funny side added. It makes you wanna complete it till the very end.
With all the women converted ( pretending) , they all move to bury nessim , and suddenly they realize where should he be buried , which side?. Askin all the same question , where shall we go now?!.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've been skimming through the reviews posted about this film, and I
was surprised to see that they are mostly positive reviews. I found
this weird at first, especially since most of the people I discussed
the film with within my circle of friends and colleagues didn't really
like it. But then I thought the contrary, this is normal since
essentially this kind of film is very easily likable.
When I watched the movie I felt a lot of things, it definitely did stir up a lot of emotions in me while watching; there were tears, laughs, enjoyable music, and the acting was not bad. But as the film closed I was left with a blank face... the bad blank face not the good one.
If I were to describe this film in one word, I would say that it is a collage- a pure collage of everything; styles, genres, stories, acting, music. There is everything in it, but I'm not sure if this is necessarily good. I felt at the end that Nadine Labaki had a lot to say and wanted to say them all at the same time. I do not blame her, since making cinema in this part of the world is very difficult, a filmmaker feels that he/she has a lot to say in so few ways.
But the essential problem for me in this film was the topic; the epic Christian-Muslim battle in Lebanese culture. Seriously, is this the biggest problem in Lebanon? Is this even the core of all problems? I seriously doubt that, rather I think it is the thing that the world would like to see about Lebanon; an exotic Kusturica-style village with the 'typical' Lebanese strife. For me the problem that we need to talk about is much bigger than that and goes down to the core of this whole nation's existence and the attitude of it's people. But again opinions differ as always.
And then there is Lysistrata, again another unconfessed adaptation mixed with unconfessed homages to directors, scenes, styles...
There is no doubt that Nadine Labake has surely been one of the pillars of globalizing Lebanese cinema, and that is a very good thing- the world now knows (more or less) that there is a country called Lebanon and it has tiny little filmmakers in it... but is this the Lebanon we live in? Does this struggle, this human emotion captured in "Where Do We Go Now?" echo the struggle we are living in this broken country?
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