I’m starting the World Cinema Series today with a movie that I watched during the Christmas break. It’s a Franco-Lebanese film directed by Nadine Labaki who also plays one of the five main characters.
Caramel tells the story of five friends living in the city of Beirut, in Lebanon. It’s an homage to friendship and the city of Beirut which was once called “Paris of the Middle-East” before it was bombed constantly and almost completely destroyed. The movie interweaves these five friends’ stories, shows their sorrows and pains, their joys and happiness. It manages to paint a picture of an extremely diverse Muslim society. Through the stories of these five women we see five different ways of life.
The biggest part of the story takes place in a beauty parlour where three of the five women are working. Layale is in love with a married man, and frequently rushes off from work, to meet him somewhere in a parking lot. Rima is attracted by women and one of her clients seems to feel the same. Nasrine is about to get married. She has a huge problem, that she shares with her girl friends. She isn’t “intact” anymore. Jamale is one of their clients and best friends. A fortysomething divorced part-time model who is terrified by getting older. Rose is an aging seamstress who takes care of Lilli, a very old demented woman.
There are some men as well, an aging man who falls in love with the gentle Rose, a policeman who pines for Layale.
I liked Caramel a lot. It’s a very warm movie, that captures a world that is at the same time foreign and familiar. I was captivated by the music, the pictures and the stories alike. These women fight the same fights we fight, they look for love and happiness, friendship and meaning. They are worried about their looks, their family, their love life. What is however completely different from our society is the human warmth and the friendship that extends over different generations.
The story of Rose and Lilli was one I liked best. All of the women take care of Lilli and she is treated with such a lot of love and respect although she does really crazy things and is getting on everyone’s nerves.
Caramel is a highly entertaining movie, moving and funny and with the right amount of melancholy to prevent it from becoming either silly or sugar-coated. Like the title, a bit like burnt sugar… Btw caramel isn’t only eaten in the movie, it is used for depilation, instead of wax. It’s such an apt symbol, something that can be sweet and delicious but causes a lot of pain as well. Just like life.
The trailer below takes a few seconds before it starts. It gives a good impression of the movie and its wonderful score.
30 thoughts on “Caramel – Sukkar banat (2007) World Cinema Series – Lebanon”
This one sounds interesting!! I like the trailer as well (too bad I can’t hear the music). I wish I can find this movie.
These women are different to each other,such interesting characters to see.
Each and every one of them is a great charcater and they treat each other with a lot of respect, even Lilli although she is a pain. Weird that you can’t hear the music.
The problem is on my computer audio system 😉
I had already posted my comment when I remembered that.
I saw this some time ago and liked it. May I recommend Satin Rouge?
I’ll look it up, thanks, Guy.
Oh thanks for reminding me to watch this! It came through the movie theater where I worked but I didn’t get a chance to see it. Sounds lovely.
Lovely is the word and colorful. I really enjoyed it.
This one sounds good! I added it to my rental list.
I hope you will like it. It’s a such a wonderful movie.
I saw Caramel at a foreign film festival last year and really enjoyed it, Caroline. The characters were so memorable.
I’m glad to hear it. I found it absolutely enchanting. The characters are wonderful, all so different.
So many films I’ve never heard of! But I do like gentle, true-to-life films, and this one sounds as if it’s firmly in that (poorly populated!) category.
That is exactly the case here. I feel Western cinema fails in this and fails in portraying strong women who are close to their feelings.
I’m not really good at catching up films on DVD but it sounds great and the kind of film I’d like.
I think, you would like it. It worked on more than one level. Unfortunately I can’t get the one Guy recommended.
Blast. It’s excellent. What about Sequins?
It’s unfortunately not the first time, I always try tracking down the movie you mention. I’ll have a look. Btw – I finally found an English version of the Duellists on amazon fr that wasn’t too expensive.
Guy, is Sequins a French movie by the title of “Brodeuses”? That would be available on amazon fr.
Wonderful review, Caroline! I haven’t heard of this movie or director before. It looks like a fascinating movie from your description. I will look for the DVD here.
Thanks, Vishy, I can really recommend it. I never saw anything by her before. She also a very good actress. I hope you will like it should you find it.
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oh I read richard think on this then yours I like sound of this film I m going try and pick up some new films and re watch some old ones ,all the best stu
Juts like in the books there is so much to discover in other countries. Caramel is well worth watching. I liked it a lot. It would be great to pair the movies with a book from a country. I’m planning on doing this with Women Withouth Men by Shahrnush Parsipur. I have the book an the movie. It will be great if you join or get inspired.
I like your world cinema plan–I will be noting which movies you watch. I checked and this is on Netflix and is even streaming–perhaps I will watch it this weekend. I am trying to be more diverse in my reading this year and should try to be so in the films I choose as well. This one sounds good–thanks for the heads up!
I could imagine you would like it and it’s wonderful at this time of th year. It’s so grey here now. I loved it for the colors and the warmth of the characters. It has so many touching elements. It’s entertaining without being superficial. I already went on watching but I don’t want to post too many movie reviews.
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A movie about friendship that won’t focus only on one character/one main plot? Seems like my kind of movie. 🙂 I hope I can watch this.
It’s a wonderful movie. I liked it a lot, I hope you can find it. I wasn’t so lucky with the one you reviewed. It’s not available here.
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