Where Do We Go Now? (PG - 13)

Directed by Nadine Labaki
Written by Rodney Al Haddid, Thomas Bidegain, Jihad Hojeily, Nadine Labaki, Sam Mounier
On general release from 22nd June 2012

Reviewed by John Owen

In the latest film from the director of Caramel the whole of the Middle East problem is condensed into this simple tale of life, focused on a village where both Christian and Muslim faith is observed, yet peace prevails. This makes for a tragic-comedy and a parable for modern times. While war in the outside world leads to countless victims, here the women band together to keep the peace and the men from causing a kick off.

They are surrounded on all sides by minefields and connected to the outside world by a bombed and dangerous bridge: a lifeline to the outside world and its woes.

With the aid of miracles, desecration, hashish parties, Ukrainian hotty strippers and agreement to disagree amongst the clergy, the real powerful message of the film shines through: no one is right to kill - not from a pacifist lament but from the mothers’ angle, who are, in the words of one woman, “Forever wearing black and mourning the losses of their sons and still wet eyed from last victims.” Should they watch and let disputes escalate to war in the fragile space or work might and main miracles even to keep the town united? With the death of her son Nassim, the central character decides to hide her own son’s body in a well. Loss, tragedy, comedy, survival, love and life are mixed together like a French cuisine special. It will affect you profoundly and stay a while in your thoughts.

This could be a model template for any town, city or village beset by division - be it religious strife or inherited colonial legacy - with a time bomb waiting to go off. On a topical note, Ireland comes to mind, with the Queen’s recent visit and Martin McGuinness shaking royalty by the hand in an act of almost Collins-like diplomacy.

See it as the Arabic Festival in Liverpool is amongst us.

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