Burnt Sugar

For the past 2 weeks or so I have been wanting to catch the film Caramel, the film by Nadine Labaki. The story of 5 Lebanese women and their issues, idiosyncrasies, fate and whatever else they were facing.

Finally I managed to squeeze in some time today to catch it in the afternoon. And I wished I had not. I didn’t like it nor was impressed by it despite some favourable reviews from online newspapers. And I understand now why the reviews have been just favourable and not spectacular or an imperative watch. The film was just so-so and if I can be a bit more critical, I would say lame.

The movie is basically about 5 Lebanese women entrangled in their own webs of forbidden love— one towards another woman’s husband, one is a lesbian, another one with issues of being a non-virgin Arab bride to be , one with her self-esteem and the last one with her senile sister. These themes are of course nothing new in Hollywood movies, and while noting that it is still a taboo subject in the Muslim Arab and Coptic Christian world, the issues of Middle Eastern women and their taboo/forbidden love/sensuality/love issue is so overused already.

It’s almost like watching a recycled film but in slow motion. And the starting was indeed too slow moving that my M&Ms were the only things which caught my interest in there, but I digress. It is a different kind of slow from Iranian films. In an Iranian film, the pace of the movie is always made up by the scenary and the setting the producer is trying to show on how life works in that particular community. The slow pace in Caramel is simply draggy, which left me wondering if it is trying to be artistic or just poor plot development on the part of the producer. Because when the speed picked up in the 2nd half, it moved fast and all the important details of the film happened in the 2nd half and then the film ended. Like..err huh?

I would describe it as a chic lit in a Beirut setting, bearing the INDIE tag instead of mainstream Hollywood.

The saving grace for the film had to be the hilarious Aunty Lili, the senile old woman who kept us laughing throughout the film and who kept the husband from falling asleep after my M&Ms were all eaten.

But it’s ok I guess. French Film Festival happening this month. *opens calendar*


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