Much as she did with her impressive debut, Caramel, Lebanese director, writer and actress Nadine Labaki tackles a serious issue with a light-hearted, melodramatic manner.
Where Do We Go Now took out the coveted People's Choice Award at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, and it's easy to see how this heartwarming and eccentric film won over the audiences.
With a mischievous sense of humour, colourful characters and a nurturing tone, it's both an amusing and subtly poignant film.
Set in a small Lebanese village, cut off from its neighbours by a gorge and old landmines, the Muslim and Christian inhabitants live side-by-side in relative harmony - when they're not at war.
A couple of teenagers rock the fragile peace when they get a television going and the locals become aware of rising sectarian violence in other areas. The news inflames the men and they begin talking about arming themselves, while the women gather and discuss ways to make sure they never go to war against each other again.
Labaki's story is told from the point of view of these women, giving Where Do We Go Now a strong matriarchal and anti-war tone.
These mothers are tired of being left to cope during times of conflict, and grieving for their husbands and sons. Unlike the men, they see violence fuelled by religious hatred as pointless, and are prepared to go to ridiculous extremes to prevent it.
They fake religious miracles, bring in Ukrainian exotic dancers to distract the men, and even drug their loved ones by putting hashish in their baking. Labaki at least has fun while musing over whether women can ever get men to stop killing each other.
Where Do We Go Now is filled with passion and purpose and yet its unusual mix of comedy, drama, melodrama, and even musical numbers, make it an acquired taste.
You're never quite too sure what Labaki might throw at you next, which adds to the film's charm, however the transition between these different genres doesn't always work as smoothly as it should.
It might be a chaotic mess at times, but there's still plenty to enjoy in this unique, delightful farce.
Cast: Layla Hakim, Nadine Labaki
Director: Nadine Labaki
Running time: 100 mins
Rating: M (offensive language)
Verdict: A charming, yet chaotic mix of drama, comedy and music.
- TimeOutBy Francesca Rudkin Email Francesca