Caramel – Sukkar banat (2007) World Cinema Series – Lebanon

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Pingback: World Cinema Series | 50 Year Project

    • 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Pingback: Caramel //

  7. Pingback: World Cinema Series – Wrap up and Winner Announcement « Beauty is a Sleeping Cat

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