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Caramel [Blu-ray] [Alemania]
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TV-Norm: HDTV 1080p. Sprachversion: Arabisch DD 5.1, Deutsch DD 5.1
Fünf Frauen auf der Suche nach einem kleinen Stück vom großen Glück.
Sie treffen sich regelmäßig in einem Schönheitssalon, um sich über ihr Leben und die Liebe auszutauschen. Der Laden, betrieben von der schönen Layale, bildet den farbenfrohen, sinnlichen Mikrokosmos der Stadt. Zwischen Haarschnitt und Kosmetikbehandlungen vertrauen sich die fünf Frauen ihre verborgensten Wünsche und tiefsten Geheimnisse an. Layale liebt einen verheirateten Mann und bemerkt gar nicht, dass sie einen Verehrer hat, der alles für sie tun würde. Nisrine wird demnächst heiraten, aber sie ist schon lange keine Jungfrau mehr. Rima verliebt sich in einen Kunden des Schönheitssalons und Jamale hat furchtbare Angst vor dem Älterwerden. Die Schneiderin Rose lebt für ihre kranke Schwester, doch mit dem Gentleman Charles tritt zum ersten Mal die Liebe in ihr Leben. Hin- und hergerissen zwischen der Tradition des Ostens und der Moderne des Westens versuchen die fünf Frauen auf ihre Weise ihr Lebensglück zu verwirklichen...
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The film shows us a Lebanon we rarely see. The setting is a Beirut beauty salon La Belle owned by Layale (Nadine Labaki) whose frequent absences from her place of business are due to trysts with a married man, trysts often delayed by a police officer, the handsome and infatuated Youssef (Adel Karram). Working in the shop is Rima (Johanna Moukarzel) whose same sex infatuation with a beautiful patron is subtly explored, and regulars in the salon include an aging wannabe actress Jamale (Gisèle Aouad), a non virgin bride to be Nisrine (Yasmine Elmasri) and an older seamstress Rose (Sihame Haddad) who has elected to relinquish her hopes for love with a willing and potential elderly man Charles (Dimitri Staneofski) in favor of continuing to care for her humorously senile mother Lili (Aziza Semaan).
How these unforgettable characters interact, displacing each other's anxieties by caring friendship freely shared, offers each of these fine actresses many moments of glory in addition to creating a fine ensemble effect as sensitively directed by Nadine Labaki. This little film (in Arabic and French with subtitles) is a complete pleasure and will likely draw attention to future films from Lebanon. Grady Harp, July 08
With so much talent and perfection displayed by Labaki in her other works; I expected an earth shaking topic and performance.
Films exploring virginity, homosexuality, the other woman and poverty are very well travelled roads and didn't need an extra repetetion. In her defense; perhaps Labaki wanted to distract the world from the all-too-frequent subject of war and focus on the Lebanese as humans with everyday problems and feelings. I had, correctly or incorrectly, higher expectations for this movie.
The largely unknown cast is superb and each deserves specific mention:
NADINE LABAKI plays LAYALE - the sexy yet scatterbrained 35-year old owner of "Si Belle" - a salon that acts as emotion-central for co-workers and girlfriends. Layale is having a giddy but demeaning affair with a married man whom we never see except as a shadow in a car under a bridge - or hear him - as he honks his horn outside the premises for her to come running...
YASMINE AL MASRI plays NISRINE - one of Layale's best workers - the beautiful and young Nisrine is having doubts about her forthcoming marriage to BASSAM a headstrong modern man played by ISMAL ANTAR. Bassam is a man who will take on the oppressive state and even God rather than capitulate; Nisrine's also worried that Bassam might not want her should he find out about her less-than-virginal past
GISELE AOUAD plays JAMALE TARABAY - a customer and friend of the younger ladies. Jamale's mid to late 40's, an actress who is getting too old to nab the lucrative advert roles anymore and goes to sad and desperate lengths to stay young-looking.
JOANNA MOUKARZEL plays the slightly butch RIMA - a lowly washer of hair in the saloon who falls silently and breathlessly in love with a beautiful woman who walks in off the street one afternoon. She is played by FATME SAFA - and may even share with shy Rima the love that dares not speaks its name...
SIHAM HADDAD plays the stoical and ceaselessly loving ROSE (Rima's 60+ Aunt) who lives across the street from the salon in her haberdashery business. LILI, her even older sister (played to stunning perfection by AZIZA SEMAAN) is a mouthy old curmudgeon who picks up bits of paper off the streets and tells everyone there's a plane coming to take her and her lover away. Rose is driven to despair by Lili's increasingly difficult senility until one day a gentleman caller comes in for a suit alteration. His name is CHARLES played by a debonair DIMITRI STANCOFSKY - Charles says little, but his kind and warm glances reawaken a tenderness in Rose she'd long thought gone - and of course poses her with a horrible family conundrum....
ADEL KARAM plays YOUSSEF the parking-ticket Policeman who longs for Layale from a distance, but she is too busy screwing up her life to notice. Youssef is handsome, decent and right for her, if only Layale would stop sticking her tongue out at him...
FADIA STELLA plays the redheaded and lovely CHRISTINE KHOURI, wife of Rahid, the feckless husband we never see. She comes calling to "So Beautiful" for a free waxing one afternoon after a phone-call the previous day to her home by a sappily desperate Layale. Or perhaps Christine's there to size up the threat to her marriage and her lovely young daughter...
There are many other cameos and they're all excellent.
Nadine Labaki - the principal actress and director - co-wrote the script with RODNEY EL HADDAD and JIHAD HOJEILY. It's her 1st film and she could easily have shirked the undeniable downside of their world in order to make the film a more palatable package for Western viewers - but she doesn't. The eternal shame heaped on women by virtue of religious guilt in all things that they do - the double standards of the authorities - the legacy of war lingering malevolently in the background - all of is subtly woven into crucial scenes. Their lives are not given to you in a preachy or clichéd manner, but in a way that shows you just what a Middle Eastern woman has to cope with nowadays. They laugh like us, they cry, they triumph, they make their mistakes, take stock, get back up again - and try their damnedest to be modern in a world inextricably tied into a two-thousand year old past. Family acts as the bedrock - friends are cherished - and love - like in every society - is the simple and deeply sought after goal for all. It's a positive and refreshing film and a view of Beirut city life that you just don't ever see.
The script is full of deftly insightful stuff too - scenes that are just so funny, tender, sad, romantic: the kid under the family dinner table looking up Nisrine's skirt because she and Bassam were playing touchy-feely legs and he knows the woman can't rat him out; the tenderness between Charles and Rose as he quietly sugars her tea in his apartment after she's returned his altered gentleman's trousers; Jamale sat on a toilet using a bottle of ink on tissue paper to feign her still having youth; Rima's lovely face as she falls in love, softly washing the long flowing jet-black hair of a stunningly beautiful customer in the lean-back sink...her huge brown eyes as she looks back up at Rima....and smiles...
To effortlessly move from the old-world respect of the elderly couple to the sensual playfulness of the young lesbians in the salon is fantastic writing.
"Caramel" blew me away - it made me ache for these good people and their hopes and aspirations and dreams. But if you want real persuasion, there are FOUR nomination references on the DVD's rear sleeve, one of which is the WINNER of the AUDIENCE AWARD at the "San Sebastian Film Festival". Not the critics - not the industry insiders - the 'audience' award. That public knew a winner when they saw one.
Joy, pride and heart went into the making of this little foreign film (called "Sukkar Banat" in some territories) - and as the credits role and Nadine Labaki's dedication tells you the movie is "For My Beirut" - it's hard not to be impossibly moved.
Put "Caramel" high on your rental/to buy list. And then make a beeline for Mira Nair's "The Namesake" - another peach of a movie - cut with the same tenderness and grace.
PS: the title of this review is a lyric from a love song sung by Rima at Nisrine's wedding