Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki made a very well received film debut with Caramel. And whereas that movie was a romantic comedy, her latest film is a bemused examination of the strain under which the women of an unnamed village live their daily lives. The reason for this strain is the constant possibility of strife, and fatal violence, between the Muslim and Christian men of the village.
All the women have lost people: husbands, sons, brothers or other male relatives, to this violence that threatens the peace across their country. This is not a new problem and the women in Where Do We Go Now? are not alone in their quest for peaceful lives. What makes this film so watchable is the manner in which the women (of both faiths) conspire together to unite their menfolk.
It begins with the installation of a community television set and when that fails, there is the attempt to recruit exotic dancers to come live among them, thereby distracting the menfolk from their petty rivalries. These are just two of the ways in which the women work together to keep their men off each others’ throats. The various schemes and calculations are met with differing levels of failure so the women band together to take one final extreme step.
And it really is something to see.
While the movie has its many charms I was thrown off by the tonal shifts a few times. I was also not a fan of the musical interludes that pepper this otherwise engaging movie.
Ms. Labaki, who also stars in the film, cast mostly first-time actors and it really is a joy to experience some of the performances in this movie. That the moments of high drama are interspersed with light comedy really did make this heavy material easier to digest.
Final Analysis: For the performances, for that grande finale, for the matter-of-fact way in which Ms. Labaki handles the reality of women living under the threat of violence, this is a film worth watching.
My Advice: Watch it when you are mentally prepared. This is not a movie one watches frivolously.