Authenticity and duality are the major themes of the film. Instead of a direct presentation, the talented director/writer/actress Nadine Labaki made the two themes salient in “Where Do We Go Now?” by using contrast. With authenticity, she put real people in situations to “create their own reality.” Duality is what stirs conflicts in the rural village where the story takes place. How does contrast come into play?

Authenticity and duality are the major themes of the film. Instead of a direct presentation, the talented director/writer/actress Nadine Labaki made the two themes salient in “Where Do We Go Now?” by using contrast. With authenticity, she put real people in situations to “create their own reality.” Duality is what stirs conflicts in the rural village where the story takes place. How does contrast come into play?

Tell me if the film does not make you ask if it is inspired by a true story. The frequent upheaval in a rural village where Muslims and Christians coexists, the war between two faiths, seems all too familiar to us.

“This is a universal theme,” said Labaki.

The center of the film, however, orbits the women’s aspiration to avoid war. Labaki invites non-professional actors/actresses, including Yvonne (Yvonne Maalouf), a wife of a man in one of the villages the film was shot, to speak for their sufferings from wars – losing their beloved fathers, husbands, and sons.

Arabic is the language the makes the story authentic. It is further demonstrated how traditional-sounding the language is when the Ukrainian dancers come and talk to the villagers in English with a Russian accent. Dancers? Isn’t this supposed to be a political film? Here again we have a taste Labaki’s use of irony to deal with life’s misfortunes, “a survival strategy to find the strength to bounce back”. Through musical and fairytale-styled dancing and singing, the film successfully evokes as much laughter as emotions, injecting a sense of lightheartedness into the serious drama.

Does the world have to be either black or white? Does one have to be either Muslim or Christian? This is the duality the movie approaches but does not offer an answer. The title “Where Do We Go Now?” left as a question in the end of the film, when Christian women wear veils and Muslim women dress in colored skirts to challenge men’s confrontational view of religions.

Another question left unanswered that may be unsatisfying is the romance between the Christian “Amale” (Nadine Labaki) and the Muslim “Rabih” (Julien Farhat). They conservatively express their affections through a song, fight in a scene when Rabih initiates a conflict with a Christian in Amale’s café, and barely have interactions since then. However, in reality marriage between lovers of different faiths is still problematic in many parts of the world.     

Music is the soul of the movie. As in “Caramel”, a 2007 comedy also directed/written/starred by Labaki, the Lebanese musician Khaled Mouzanar composed songs which suits so perfectly in the scenes that the real actors sing and dance just as natural as in real life. Produced in Lebanon where “there is no film industry”, according to Labaki, the film proved the talents and efforts of the cast and is bound to impress international audience as a powerful nonviolent weapon for hope and change.  

Rating: PG-13
Running time: 110min

 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here