This film, just out in Paris, is the second by Lebanese director-actress Nadine Labaki (whose first was the 2007 ‘Caramel‘, loved by everyone who saw it; everyone I know, at least). It is a comedy-fable, set in a mixed Christian-Muslim village during the Lebanese civil war (Lebanon is never mentioned in the film nor is it situated historically, but it’s rather obvious what it is). The village has not been caught up in the surrounding war and the communities get along fine—everyone knows everyone else—but the slightest incident can set off quarreling and worse. In order to prevent their excitable menfolk from dragging the village into sectarian bloodletting the women of both communities band together and hatch a madcap scheme. The film is quite funny and with some great moments, among them the hilarious ending. It won the audience award at the Toronto film festival last month. The audience at my suburban Parisian neighborhood cinema—middle-aged and older, middle class French—manifestly liked it too (a lot of laughter). Reviews in France have been tops. À ne pas louper.
Last month I saw a new Iranian film, ‘Good Bye’, which also focuses on women—or a particular woman, played by the sublime actress Leyla Zareh, who is in practically every scene—and with a contemporary political theme. But it is absolutely not a comedy. The lead character is a Tehran lawyer, pregnant, and whose politically engagé journalist husband is on the run from the authorities. It’s a slowly paced film—not one for the masses—and which pretty effectively depicts the political horror of the Islamic Republic, and particularly for women. It showed at Cannes this year (as did Nadine Labaki’s) but director Mohammed Rasoulof could not be present, as he was sentenced (along with the great Jafar Panahi) to a six-year prison term last year by a Tehran kangaroo court, for his participation in the 2009 Green Movement. An outrage. For reviews, see here and here.