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The Secret of the Grain (2007)

La graine et le mulet (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 12 December 2007 (France)
In southern France, a Franco-Arabic shipyard worker along with his partner's daughter pursues his dream of opening a restaurant.

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Cast

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

The Best French Film of the Year See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French | Arabic | Russian

Release Date:

12 December 2007 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

The Secret of the Grain See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$9,864, 2 January 2009, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$86,356, 1 March 2009
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | DTS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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

Featured in Maltin on Movies: Flipped (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Hafsia Herzi steals the show
20 April 2008 | by wondercriticSee all my reviews

This is the story of French-speaking Arabs somewhere in a port city on France's Mediterranean coast. The main character, Slimane, an Arab immigrant, works as a repairman on boats, and his immediate boss is always on his case about how slow he is. When Slimane confronts him, the boss simply says the work is no longer profitable and that his hours must be cut. Slimane is in despair. He has missed two alimony payments to his ex-wife, and as he brings large amounts of fresh fish around to her, he discovers that the freezer is full of frozen fish, the stuff he brought previously that hasn't been eaten. She tells him fish doesn't pay the bills, and now he has to think of something.

Slimane feels like a failure, but thanks to the aggressive nature of Rym, his daughter by his girlfriend, he succeeds in obtaining a loan from the bank to open a boat restaurant that specializes in the fish couscous that his ex-wife makes so wonderfully. No one in the local community believes he can pull it off, but he schedules an opening night and invites all the local grandees. There is live music and drink is flowing. His ex-wife cooks a huge quantity of couscous and everything is ready.

To say more would be to spoil the film. Suffice to say, the big night could not go off smoothly and still qualify as drama. But the star attraction is the young actress who plays Rym, Hafsia Herzi. She cannot be past her teens but shows tremendous depth and range—in addition to an extra talent that viewers will have to wait to see. She is easily the funniest character as well, since the rest are rather sad types that depict the dysfunction inherent in Muslim immigrant communities in the West.

The style of this movie is pure realism. The acting is superb all around, so much so that it almost feels like a documentary at times, a kind of "day in the life" where some documentary filmmaker follows these people around for a few days to see how they live. What augments this sense is that the camera is almost always hand-held, and the image is moving around all the time in a method pioneered by NYPD Blue. I found this slightly irritating, actually, since it does not give much room for spectacular cinematography. My ideal movie is a visually mesmerizing spectacle, and this film is not one — at least in terms of the photographic quality. There are some scenes where the movements of the actors—particularly Hafsia Herzi—compensate for this shortcoming. But on the whole it is unremarkable visually.


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