The resurgence of Lebanese talent in the past few years as a viable competitor to what we import, has never been more obvious to me than in Nadine Labaki’s latest 6.7 million USD long feature film, Where Do We Go Now?
The movie is beautifully written and tells the story of a remote village somewhere in the Bekaa, isolated from the rest of Lebanon. The village, which was never named, consists of both Christian and Muslim families. The women in the story are the main players, with the moms from both religions forming a very tightly knit group that will stop at nothing to keep their men from fighting each other after news of sectarian violence outside reached the quiet little village.
Twist after twist in the story, leaves you smiling and sort of bowing your head in pleasure at the masterful story-telling that only a Lebanese might fully understand and appreciate. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have universal appeal though, for the movie highlights aspects often overlooked about Lebanon in movies, and really brings some life into the overused topic of “coexistence” between sects in Lebanon.
Speaking of that cliche topic, coexistence, Where Do We Go Now really succeeds in being honest about how things really go down in mixed towns and villages in Lebanon. It isn’t a high-and-mighty, hippie approach to the topic, but a getting-your-hands-dirty and sparing-no-expense kind of scenario, which sufficed to say, won my heart.
The characters are all very lovable and have a true teta-like appeal. The language and mannerisms are refreshingly Lebanese, making it easy to transplant yourself in a kid’s, a mom’s, a dad’s, a priest’s or an imam’s shoes in the story. They’re also extremely hilarious, with puns and jokes that will have you nearly suffocate on your popcorn more than once throughout the 110 minutes. Here’s a sample: Hashishet Albe (Hashish of my heart, which in Arabic sounds very familiar to “habibet albeh” love of my heart)
The story though is bitter-sweet. You might laugh wholeheartedly at the wholesome, and sometimes naughty, jokes and scenes, but you’ll also choke up and purse your lips in others. On that note, I’d like to address the stupid “soldiers of Christ” here, and ask them why they don’t threaten Nadine Labaki with boycott like they did with LMFAO? After all, there’s a scene where they shatter a statue of the Virgin Mary, and fake a miracle *gasps in horror* Dumbasses.
One of the only two people who get in and out of the village regularly, Nassim, ends up caught up in the crossfire of a Christian-Muslim clash outside the village and dies. His devastated mother will stop at nothing to prevent a backlash, and hides her son’s body till she can figure out a way to reconcile the men of the village. After a couple of very imaginative trials, the women end up converting to the opposite religion after drugging and destroying the men’s weapons, in protest to the constant skirmishes between the people with penises.
The ending though, explains very powerfully, beautifully, poetically and downright epically the name of the movie “Halla2 La Wein?”, that, I will not spoil for you guys and very strongly recommend you go watch it ASAP. The movie has already won the People’s Choice Awards at the Toronto Film Festival, and will be representing Lebanon in the 84th Academy Awards. So, Where Do We Go Now? Well, to the oscars of course! #WDWGN #FTO!
IMDB Rating: 7.2/10 (pre-release)
My Rating: 10/10