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The sweet unveiling of 'Caramel'
janos45125 January 2008
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.
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Caramel, you woke up my heart
Nicole Mishalany9 February 2008
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
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Life's all in a "salon de beauté"
Alice Thill24 August 2007
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!
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Humorous and engaging
Howard Schumann16 March 2008
A blend of the unique and the familiar, Caramel, Lebanon's official Academy Award submission for Best Foreign Film 2007, is a bittersweet comedy set in Beirut, Lebanon, a city on the road to recovery from a civil war. The familiar part is that like Barbershop the film takes place in a beauty salon called Si Belle where a group of women work and congregate as they deal with problems of thwarted romance, marriage, aging, and sexuality. The unique part is that these personal stories occur in a city where religious and political conflict is never too far from the surface, though there is no mention of Israelis or Palestinians. The title by the way has nothing to do with very sweet chewy candy but refers to a sticky concoction used by the hairdressers to rip out unwanted facial hair. Ouch!

The cast consists of excellent non-professional actors including the director and co-writer Nadine Labaki who plays Layale, a single, 30-year old salon owner who happens to be Christian. Layale is involved in an affair with a happily married man and ignores the romantic overtures of a handsome traffic cop (Adel Karam) who openly flirts with her while giving her parking tickets. Her best friend is co-worker Nisrine (Yasmine Al Masri), a Muslim who, in a state of panic that her future husband will discover that she is not a virgin, goes to a plastic surgeon to attempt to fix the problem.

Other offbeat characters are Aunt Rose, a sweet old seamstress who lives with her slightly demented sister (Aziza Semaan) and Jamale (Gisele Aouad), an aging actress who goes through mechanical auditions for commercials but senses that her best days are behind her. Though the salon environment is quite nurturing and the women are open about expressing their feelings and desires, it is quite evident that they operate under a society governed by traditional Islamic law. Layale learns that you cannot book a hotel room unless you can prove that you are either married or a prostitute, and a couple is harassed by a policeman merely for sitting in their car and talking.

Rima (Joanna Moukarzel) is attracted to a beautiful long-haired woman (Fatmeh Safa) who comes to the shop for shampoos but she is reluctant to openly express her feelings. While Caramel might have veered into soap opera under less capable hands, the director carefully avoids the Hollywood treatment. She has created strong-minded women who have built the kind of community in which they can turn to each other for mutual support. Dedicating her humorous, quietly engaging film "to my Beirut", Ms. Labaki has woven a tapestry of the fading beauty of the ancient city, old traditions being confronted by the new, and the discovery of the bonds between people that make relationships worth celebrating.
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Enchanting film... really captivates... those eyes...
Jose Guilherme4 December 2007
I just saw this film in the International Film Festival in Brasilia, Brazil. I thought one more non-lebanese comment might actually be helpful.

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... 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.
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GeorgeKalash27 October 2007
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 Lebanese language.

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.
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nnanoo20 October 2007
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 !!!!
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A Must See Movie!
Ranwa-Haddad18 January 2008
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.
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Good Performances / Enjoyable Film
jmatrixrenegade3 February 2008
Warning: 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.
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Brilliant, delicate, intense feminine fresco
simona gianotti1 August 2009
In Beirut, six women and six stories meet around a women's beauty parlour: Layale, in love with a married man who will never leave his wife for her, Nisrine, who is going to get married and doesn't know how to tell his boyfriend she is no longer virgin, Rima, who doesn't accept to be attracted by women, Jamale, obsessed by age and physical appearance and Rose, who has sacrificed the best years of her life to look after her sister. Inside the hot, colourful and magnetic atmosphere of the old-fashioned beauty parlour, between brush strokes and caramel wax we hear them speaking about sex, love, maternity, with the freedom and intimacy that only women can show.

The result is a delicate fresco on women, capable of getting straightforwardly to the heart of women, but not only. A very delicate, never vulgar watercolour, depicting women involved in what seem to be out of time female problems and concerns. A fresco which also deals with hot topical issues, such as war, the living together between Catholics and Muslims, the clash of different cultures, but never losing its amusing and amused tone. In the end, we are both stunned and comforted by the strength that only women can show when they join together and problems are to be faced.

The director and actress Nadine Labaki manages to render the female daily melancholy, without ever falling into the banal or the cliché, but through a powerful and intense synaesthetic strategy: through eyes, smells, sounds, in such a poignant way, as to make us able to touch, to smell, to taste what is being performed, as if we were absorbed in that same intense atmosphere. A word must be spent for the soundtrack, well and wisely dosed, and never boring. A feel-good and intelligent movie I would suggest to all women, and, why not, also to men.
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An Uncannily Genuine and Graceful Dramatic Comedy
jzappa3 September 2008
Nadine Labaki's genuine, refined and culturally important dramatic comedy abides by the lives of five Lebanese women. Labaki plays one of these everyday young ladies working in a beauty salon with two other women. One is at a loose end in a relationship with a married man, one is no longer a virgin but is established to be married to a Muslim, one is attracted to women. A frequent customer and aspiring actress is troubled by aging, a tailor with a shop next to the salon is an old woman who had given her life to looking after her deranged elder sister but has found her first love.

Caramel hums with courage and unapologetic honesty. Labaki's story doesn't touch on any of the political troubles or topical warfare that has painted the western world's immediate image of Lebanon. Instead, she re-paints it with a film in the same spirit as many female bonding movies from France, Italy and America. Her characters and situations involve normal people with average problems that take into poised contemplation Lebanese society and customs and its traditional notions and expectations of women. Without being cynical, belligerent or aggressive, Labaki's film betrays nothing, hides nothing and even by the end has not contrived a thing for the sake of appeasing her strict traditionalist culture or for the sake of her film's inherent message, which evidently has reached the people it is most important that it reaches, made clear by the fact that the film gained first place in the Lebanese box office for more than a month.

This is an uncannily natural and graceful film. Its soothing, peaceful chi is infectious as one watches it. With a uniquely aromatic effect upon the audience, this movie showcases in succulent gold and red cinematography the beauty of all the characters, who are one with the oriental fragrances and exquisite assortment of the most pleasant feelings that guide the lives it permeates.
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Great surprise from Nadine Labaki!
Jad Zouain15 August 2007
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!
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Beautiful, Helwa !!
tghabin3 February 2008
Absolutely beautiful. Being originally from Beirut I could name someone I know to each of the characters in the movie,they were realistic and wonderfully developed. Nadine is incredibly beautiful, as are all of the women in the film. And just like homemade caramel, this movie is a mixture of sweet and sour. I could tell you I was crying just as much as I was laughing throughout the film. Unfortunately I have not been back to Beirut since the war started two years ago, my heart aches especially for my city during these times of turmoil, and to see a film that does not really touch on the subject is a bit of breath of fresh air. Thank you Nadine, shukuran Habibti.
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Intensely sensitive, utterly brilliant film about women's feelings and identities
robert-temple-15 September 2009
This film is so incredible that there are barely words to express the admiration and amazement which any sensitive person must experience upon seeing it. There are so many remarkable things about it. First of all, it is the first and only film directed by the beautiful young Lebanese actress Nadine Labaki, and yet she has the sure touch of a master, as if she had been making films like this for fifty years. Everything appears entirely effortless and natural, not like a 'film' at all, but like the spontaneous happenings of life itself. It flows like water, sparkling, darkening, then sparkling again. Apart from Labaki, who plays a lead character, no one in the film had ever acted before. They are all ordinary people, some of them actually picked up in the street! And yet, their performances are perfect, as if they had all won plenty of Oscars before and were all old pros. The film is made without any English-speaking influence at all, and is entirely influenced by French film-making style. There is a great deal of improvisation and a loose, natural structure. But Nadine Labaki is such a genius that she has out-done the French at their own game, and frankly, she could now go to Paris and tell them all how it should really be done. She must have been born a master, like Mozart. This is the ultimate nouvelle vague film, and Godard never even came close to this kind of total spontaneity and sense of truth. There is a touch of the anguished desperation of Agnes Varda, of the devil-may-care lightness tinged with melancholy of Julie Delpy, of the harrowed intensity of Agniezka Holland, and it is all profoundly feminine. Men barely figure in the film, which is about five Lebanese women who work in a beauty salon owned by one of them (Labaki). In this sanctum sanctorum, where men rarely enter, the secrets of the inner lives of the women are shared, not necessarily by discussion, but by osmosis. The 'caramel' of the title is literally the caramel made by boiling sugar, lemon juice and water to make caramel candy. It is used in Beirut to do the waxing on women's legs, but plenty gets eaten before they get to work. Waxing with caramel is a kind of purely female bonding ritual in Lebanese families, Labaki explains in a fascinating and lengthy interview which is an extra to the DVD, and which everybody ought to watch. One hopes that Labaki will get lots of work in Paris now, where they should all bow down and kiss the nether hems of her garments, and be quick about it, as she has surpassed them all with her first effort. However, as Labaki dedicates her film at the end 'a mon Beyrouth' ('to my Beirut'), she may be too attached to the place to leave. She admits to having lived with her parents as a young adult until her marriage and to being integrated into her community in a way difficult for Westerners to comprehend. The women in the salon are a mixture of Christian and Muslim, wholly indifferent to any barriers of religion, and cosmopolitan in their manners as only the women of Lebanon can be in the 'Arab world'. They are as far from the black crows of oppressed Saudi Arabia as day is from night. But that does not mean that they are liberated inside. As Labaki says, all Beirut women feel an undefined sense of guilt every day, they don't know for what, and none of them is really sure of who she is or who she should be. There are so many spectacular performances in this amazing film that it would be pointless to name them, as they are all so brilliant, and no one is even vaguely inferior to anyone else. It is the most perfectly matched ensemble I have ever seen. A great deal of the credit for this spectacular achievement is due to the French producer Anne-Dominique Toussaint, who was executive producer of the amazing 'Mina Tannenbaum' in 1994 and co-producer of Deneuve's 'Place Vendome' in 1998, to name two which are well known around the world. If it were not for Toussaint, Labaki would not have been given her chance. The film has excellent music by Khaled Mouzzanar, whom Labaki married in 2007, perhaps because she liked the sound of his music so much that she decided they may as well make some together. This film is extremely daring in terms of an Arab country, or even a Maronite one, as it deals with themes which include adultery and lesbianism and the double lives lived by Lebanese women who are liberated when alone but conventional when with their families, so that they are not sure which is really 'them'. They stand with one foot in the Stone Age and one foot in the future, which can be leg-splitting. Gisele Aouad, Sihame Haddad, Dimitri Staneofski, and Aziza Semaan all bring their own special pathos to the problems of getting old. The sad story of 'Tante Rose', played by Sihame Haddad, is heart-breaking, and is portrayed with such infinite delicacy that the actress could be described as a spiritual lace-maker. Aziza Semaan, as her much older sister Lili, who has dementia, is both hilarious and tragic at the same time, and one of the wildest and most breathtaking performances filmed in years. She is the one of whom Labaki says: 'I turned round in the street and saw her and I asked her if she would be willing to be in a film.' It took a year to piece together the cast off the street like this. Not since Carl Dreyer cast his silent film 'The Passion of Joan of Arc' with strangers whose faces he liked, has anything like that been pulled off so well. Everything about this film is sheer genius.
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RResende15 January 2009
This is as seductive as the women it depicts. Women directing is a field i haven't explored so much for now, and i think it can be really rewarding, taking the samples i've had so far.

This was, as well known, a Lebanese film, directed by a woman, depicting free-thinking women. This is enough trivia to make it worth watching, and a landmark for a country which, not being as immersed in fundamentalism as other Islamic countries is still quite overshadowed by them. So, there is a line of commentary about this that goes on that. I skip it.

What interested me here was the sweetness of everything. Sweet as caramel? Sure, but more. There are true urges, true fundamental issues debated here, without being mentioned directly, so they have to be told visually, and that's the sweet spot i deeply appreciate.

There are no depressive pseudo intellectual babbling here, only true needs by these women, with truer existential concerns, that go way beyond fundamentalism, women's oppression or "feelings". What women fight for is a way to be, a way to live, they look for their own mood; that mood the film itself has (beautiful cinematography). Each of these women go around adversities (the fake virgin, the lesbians) or face them directly and move on (the older lady, the protagonist). So in a way, the stories we watch is probably the very story of the making of this film. Though this has french support, i'm guessing that Labaki went around and faced directly similar existential concerns while making this. Well, she got out nicely, to my eyes.

It's nice to have women filmed, maybe cinema can become the best way to watch women through women's eyes, literally. From my short viewings of women's films, it's a much less erotic look but a much greater insight into their soul. I can live with that.

My opinion: 4/5
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The world through a beauty salon.
Tim Johnson18 November 2008
When Diane and I viewed this film several days ago, neither one of us knew anything about the content so the film was a total Tabla Rasa for us; we were both captivated by this beautiful and sensitive look at human life as lived by these women in Beirut. My friend would dismiss this film, if he would ever attend it, as being too costly for the bang of the movie. He, like probably many who would venture into the darkness to sit through a foreign film, would hope to see a little blood, a car crash or two and of course, many guns so he would be disappointed at the subtlety and quiet that constituted this wonderful small film. He would be disappointed that Caramel had no significant male actors bar one; no Hollywood theatrics and no sex. Rather this lovely film was an intense examination of the interconnecting lives of the women who visited the parlour. This is a soft film; a film that quietly examines the small dramas that are the substance of our lives so this film is us in so many important ways. I am drawn to these films about small human dramas; they provide the inward examination of our lives that is the true substance of what we are and the drama that is our existence.
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Caramel shows that it can be done
jeffreylincoln25 March 2008
Caramel is one of the rare contemporary films that shows restraint in its use of common language and in-your-face eroticism. I can't remember the last time I watched a movie that dealt with adult topics in such creative ways.

In contrast to most other films of this kind, we the audience are treated as intelligent, thinking people. We are asked to examine women's issues of sex, relationships, and aging without being subjected to the graphic scenes and gratuitous language that are prevalent in today's film-making. There isn't even an instance of "potty" humor, although one particularly touching scene takes place in a bathroom. Nevertheless, humor abounds in the form of terrific writing and amazingly good acting by these Arabic actresses.

Naturally, movies of this type do not have mass appeal in US culture. But for cinema buffs who appreciate the creative nature of screen writing, Caramel should not be missed. Guys, you can earn points by taking your date to this one, and there is a bevy of beauties for us to enjoy. And moms, don't miss the chance to take your adolescent daughters to Caramel... It will spark conversations about love, relationships, adultery, lesbianism, menopause, and more... All without being offensive.
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A Cake with 10 Eggs
David Ferguson13 March 2008
Greetings again from the darkness. Insightful film dominated by Writer-Director-Lead Actress Nadine Labaki. Billed as a Romantic Comedy, this is much more a commentary on people ... especially women and how everyone's thought and actions revolve around finding the right companion. During that search, there can be much loneliness and frustration, but the discovery makes it all worthwhile.

The doe-eyed Ms. Labaki gives a fine performance and supposedly most of the supporting roles were filled by "real" people, not actors. Probably why the movie has such an earthy, straight-from-the-heart feel to it. There is much creativity in the editing and scene cuts. Much of the humor of the film is derived from tying one scene to another seemingly unrelated one.

Not in the class of the Almodovar films, it still is very poignant and classy in it's commentary on women and relationships. Also, it is refreshing to see a film on Beirut that is character driven and not politically or war based.
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Billy Shaker10 August 2007
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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Ideal mix of eternal female dilemmas and local flavours
jozsefbiro28 December 2008
A French-Lebanese movie. The style (and apparently some of the money) comes from the French: this movie could have been directed by Eric Rohmer or Agnes Jaoui. The story is Lebanese, although it gives an ideal mix of eternal dilemmas and local flavours. The eternal dilemmas are the various female roles and conflicts which you can experience everywhere in the world. The local flavours are provided by the Lebanese environment, which is excitingly mixed itself. It is a country torn by civil wars, as we know from the press, but looks much more peaceful in this movie. Christians and Muslims, Arabs and French-speaking coexist in a natural although perhaps a bit tense manner (proven by the strong presence of the military and the police). Still, the story concentrates on how women face love, loneliness and aging. These are eternal issues but the local patriarchist society gives much less freedom for women in coping with them than in the west. This is mildly criticized by director Nadine Labaki (also playing one of the main roles of the movie) in this refreshing and interesting film.
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Slow and sweet... a perfect name for the movie
siderite10 September 2008
This is a movie written, directed and played by women. Men, the city itself and Lebanon as a country play little or no part in the story. It is all about regular lives led by women working in a beauty salon. Maybe that was the whole message, that life can be sweet even in Lebanon, that politics and religion and violence need not shape one's life.

That is the reason why I liked this film, I think: it was slow, sweet, well acted and depicting events that I could relate to, even if I am as far from Lebanese culture as anyone can be. If it would have been an American movie, I would have said it was slightly boring, just because I would take some things for granted.

Bottom line: a movie for women, mostly, with no end moral, just describing the life of some women in Beirut, but omitting any reference to the political setting.
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The Microcosm of the Beauty Salon
gradyharp19 July 2008
SUKKAR BANAT (CARAMEL) marks a fine directorial debut for the stunningly beautiful Lebanese actress Nadine Labaki. Though films about the private lives of a circle of women who gather in a mutual watering hole to gossip, share joys and pains of love affairs, as well as being the important support group they all need are plentiful (think STEEL MAGNOLIAS), few come as close to the intimacy shared by this talented cast whose disparate problems keep the film flying. The screenplay by Rodney El Haddad and Jihad Hojeily is greatly enhanced by the cinematography by Yves Sehnaoui with the atmospheric musical score by Khaled Mouzannar, but it is the impeccable cast that completes this tender, humorous, and gently sentimental little tale.

The film shows us a Lebanon we rarely see. The setting is a Beirut beauty salon La Belle owned by Layale (Nadine Labaki) whose frequent absences from her place of business are due to trysts with a married man, trysts often delayed by a police officer, the handsome and infatuated Youssef (Adel Karram). Working in the shop is Rima (Johanna Moukarzel) whose same sex infatuation with a beautiful patron is subtly explored, and regulars in the salon include an aging wannabe actress Jamale (Gisèle Aouad), a non virgin bride to be Nisrine (Yasmine Elmasri) and an older seamstress Rose (Sihame Haddad) who has elected to relinquish her hopes for love with a willing and potential elderly man Charles (Dimitri Staneofski) in favor of continuing to care for her humorously senile mother Lili (Aziza Semaan).

How these unforgettable characters interact, displacing each other's anxieties by caring friendship freely shared, offers each of these fine actresses many moments of glory in addition to creating a fine ensemble effect as sensitively directed by Nadine Labaki. This little film (in Arabic and French with subtitles) is a complete pleasure and will likely draw attention to future films from Lebanon. Grady Harp
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Fantastic Movie
aai3335 July 2008
I will not give anything up but I will say watch this movie. I have been sick of commercialism lately but I can say this is one of the most touching movies I have seen in the last few years. The characters are very real and the Layale(actor/director)is just FANTASTIC and stunning. I am Lebanese ethnically although have lived in the US and Europe for the last 25 years and this movie really impacted how I thought and felt about Lebanon with its 2 sided face. The traditional Lebanon that abides by religion and the free, modern and hip Lebanon. In addition, the music is fantastic and execution is near flawless.

Watch it
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A beautiful film made with heart from a Lebanese woman
Tedzey7122 June 2008
I originally found out about this film from reading a review in a film critic magazine. When I saw the words "Lebanon" under the title of the film "Caramel", I instantly thought of the hair waxing technique my mother would use for her customers (she is a Lebanese hair stylist). When I finally got my hands on this film, I fell in love with its characters and camera work. Everything this movie depicts on a Christian or Muslim woman living in Lebanon is so true. My mother tells me that there is still a light in Lebanon even at times of war, which is what director Nadine Labaki shows. I love how she takes Lebanese cinema (which has always been as old fashion as a mickey mouse cartoon)and made a film Americans would appreciate that deals with issues such as sex and religion. A must see film.
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Absolutely fabulous
PipAndSqueak8 June 2008
A fabulous girlie depiction of life in Arabic Beirut. Fantastic. It was almost like being there. All of the characters were completely believable and very rounded. We're relieved from having to witness artificial scenes to explain the string pulling men; we don't even see any of them. We are presented with something very domestic yet at the same time extremely philosophical; this is an amazing feat - and so unexpected. Compeling from start to finish, the title also proves to be perfectly chosen. Caramel is sometimes sticky sweet, sometimes bitter and brittle, often chewy leaving a flavoursome aftertaste. This film is glorious, a fabulous heart warmer for any day.
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