PRODUCER :- Nadine Labaki
DIRECTOR : – Anne-Dominique Toussaint
TYPE OF FILM :- Melodrama
BASIC THEME :- Conflict between Christians & Muslims/ Ethnic clashes
Where Do We Go Now?, is a surprising independent film filled with laughter despite the darkness that lingers in the background. It in fact is one that celebrates the music, the food, and the good humour of Lebanese culture in its best senses. Humour is ever present in this comedy of manners, and it is best embodied by the female characters’ conniving yet endearing ways. They decide to manipulate their husbands for their own good after they realize shaming them with words for their frequent outbursts will not be sufficient. The decision to bring the night- club dancers and once they arrived the reactions seen from the men flock, he fake miracle of Virgin Mary etc (considering the fact that they did it for a greater cause) seems to be rather entertaining. In one scene, they traipse through the darkness together to bury their husbands’ guns far from the village—afraid of encountering wolves on the way. Back in their village, they gather in the kitchen and make cakes by mixing paste with sleep-inducing drugs to placate their husbands. They dance and sing in the kitchen while revile in their trickery. It is really is a laugh-out-loud film about sectarian violence—and that in itself might be the chief indicator of its seriousness and craft.
The film also has got a great social value in it. From a feminist point of view the film tries to convince that the women in a society can be a very important social institution in the village, serving as the moral and ideological police force for the community. There is a sincere attempt to reflect on the fact that when it comes to acts of communal violence, it is men, rather than women, who are most often the agents of barbarism—but one need not be a feminist to make this observation. At one point in the film, the Dancers visit the cemeteries, and one of them comments, “There are more dead people than living here.” They see a photo of Yvonne’s son that they recognize from her house, and remark how they can now understand why she is so crazy. “Poor mothers,” they intone. (In the closing frame of the film, the work is indeed dedicated to “our mothers.”) Another Russian replies, “They are even buried separately.” This, it seems to me, is one of the moments in which the everyday practice of sectarianism, which might be opposed to the innate passion for one’s community against all others, is referenced.
Victimhood is never evident in the female characters. The women of the village play a critical role in their marriages and local politics, albeit in an unofficial, covert manner. They do not reflect the caricature of Middle Eastern femininity often portrayed on screen. They are not hiding behind the veil or doing their husbands’ bidding for fear of retaliation. They are full-fledged, empowered human beings, living in communion with each other and their neighbours.
The portrait of two men of the church—the local priest and imam—is also poignant. Together, they call followers of their faiths to ‘compulsory’ conclaves of forgiveness and compassion. One night the two patriarchs organize an evening in front of a television set—a symbol of modernity and another chance for the village to come together. The scene is a reminder of the poverty of Lebanon, an emerging economy struggling to succeed in face of combat and destruction.
The logic of the film can be also questioned on the film’s notion that a mother might actually go to such devastating lengths to “protect” her village from further bloodshed, however, the film is worth the effort of bracketing questions about the plausibility of her act.
One cannot also deny the fact that the film offers an unsatisfying picture of the persecution of Christians across the Middle East. It conveniently ignores the fact that there is constant force trying Christians out of Lebanon, or the religious persecution pervasive across the Middle East in wake of the Arab Spring. I personally feel that the film could do well in being a little more realistic.
Nadine Labaki has made a satisfying film, one that celebrates the music, the food, and the good humour of Lebanese culture in its best senses. It is a laugh-out-loud film about sectarian violence—and that in itself might be the chief indicator of its seriousness and craft. It is meant as a feminine fairy tale, though it is much more than a feminist answer to ongoing sectarian tensions. This makes for a pleasant surprise. Moreover, Where Do We Go Now? Nadine Labaki deserves high praise for continuing to help put Lebanon on the map of international cinema.
The music for the entire film is done by Khaled Mouzanar and the Lyrics are by Tania Saleh. Sound effects used are mainly that of gun shots, tension, suspense and even happy and peppy once. Fantasy song-and-dance Such as that of Amala and Rabih is another plus point in the movie. Such musical interludes punctuate the movie throughout, providing moments of escape and alternative possibility.
The film is beautifully shot, oscillating between chiaroscuro night scenes and bright ochre and olives, as the gorgeous cast and the tranquil mountain village is bathed in Mediterranean light. The camera zooms in and out of the lives led by the villagers as a hand would flick through a photo album. The pace is at once lively and fast-paced, yet equally reflective and placid. As I have already mentioned the excellent cinematography makes it possible for the film to be well reached to even to the illiterate.
The film ends where it began, in the village cemetery. The entire village sets off to bury Nassim, with all the women still dressed in their “sectarian attires.” When they arrive at the cemetery, however, the pallbearers are confused, asking, “Where do we go now?” No one knows where the body should be buried. This is how the movie ends, leaving the title question hanging in the air.