to Iron Ladies of Liberia,
the notion of woman who succeed in keeping the peace where men have failed isn't exactly an uncommon theme in world literature or cinema. However, it's seldom been pulled off as entertainingly as it is in co-writer/director and actress Nadine Labaki's Lebanese film Where Do We Go Now?,
which is getting ready to open in the Indianapolis market as part of its nationwide run with Sony Classics in arthouse theaters after its big Audience Award win at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The film centers around a neighborhood where the local mosque and church sit side-by-side in a town that is fairly evenly divided between the two faiths. The film actually isn't that too far removed, minus the romantic comedy angle, from Christian Vuissa's Baptists at our Barbecue. Where Do We Go Now?
is actually far more serious, though it's also a comedy, a musical, a drama, etc. The men in the village have proven powerless to stop the violence in their community, with even the Imam (Ziad Abou Absi) and Priest (Samir Awad) failing to end the violence.
Where Do We Go Now?
had me from its opening scene and never let go, with Labaki infusing the film with equal parts zest, energy, anger and enthusiasm. While the film is flawed, at times immensely, it's so easy to get swept up in it that it's easy to forgive Labaki for filling the entire production with too many characters, mostly irrelevant men and an uneven tone that occasionally threatens to derail the film (but never actually does).
Amale (Labaki) is at the center of the story and she's given a good amount of the character development within the film, though Claude Baz Moussawba is terrific as a shopkeeper and Yvonne Maalouf is a hoot as the mayor's wife in an all too brief appearance.
That may actually be the one big problem with Where Do We Go Now?
It seems like everything is "all too brief," though I suppose there are moments where one is a bit grateful for it. For the most part, dilutes the film's impact by including too many storylines and too many different approaches. The end result is that while the film entertains, nothing really sticks with you long enough that you leave the theater wanting to tell others about it.
However, while you're in the theater you'll definitely have a blast.
I don't know where you go now, but on Friday, June 29th, Indy fans of quality foreign language cinema should head on down to Landmark's Keystone Art Cinema to catch Where Do We Go Now?
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic