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Where Do We Go Now?

Where Do We Go Now?

Released 6 July 2012
Director Nadine Labaki

Claude Baz Moussawbaa, Leyla Hakim, Nadine Labaki, Yvonne Maalouf, Antoinette Noufaily, Julian Farhat, Ali Haidar, Kevin Abboud

Rodney Al Haddid, Thomas Bidegain, Jihad Hojeily, Nadine Labaki, Sam Mounier

Nadine Labaki, Anne-Dominique Toussaint
Origin France, Lebanon, Egypt, Italy
Running Time 110 minutes
Genre Comedy, drama

Holy Wars?

In an isolated village in rural Lebanon a mosque and a Christian church stand side by side. The locals get along just fine until outside tensions threaten to explode underlying tensions. From Nadine Labaki (director and star of the award-winning Caramel) comes Where Do We Go Now?, a surprisingly light-hearted and upbeat tale chronicling the struggle of a group of women to keep their men from being carried away by mindless violence. The film is a huge hit in its native country, and has become the most financially successful Lebanese film of all time.

By relying on a light-hearted and comedic tone, Labaki’s film is somewhat similar in tone to Lasse Hallström’s Chocolat. Both films depict a timeless small town somewhat isolated from the rest world, and explore the complicated relationship between neighbours. But Where Do We Go Now? has a much darker subtext – a religious conflict that still divides Lebanon today – and while comedy is a novel way of approaching this, the film does become quite uneven.

The main problem is that there is too much going on at once. The large cast of characters are all given time to develop there contrasting personalities. This works in creating a realistic sense of place, but there is a reason why conventional films avoid too many characters – none of the characters truly get the chance to develop or have a proper character arc.

Even the unfolding love story between Labaki’s protagonist and a local handyman (which receives a lot of prominence early on in the film) is pushed back as the plot unfolds and is left unresolved by the end.

When Where Do We Go Now? works it is a clever mix of comedy and musical sensibilities with serious social commentary. In places it becomes a powerful commentary on the Middle East, and provides a portrait very different than recent western interpretations/depictions of the region. The only real problem is that the film attempts to do too much at once, and ultimately fails to bring all the conflicting elements together in a unified and coherent way.

- Bernard O’Rourke