Director: Nadine Labaki
Talent: Claude Baz Moussawbaa, Leyla Hakim, and Nadine Labaki
Release Date: 22nd June 2012
Filmed in three isolated villages in Lebanon, Nadine Labaki’s Where Do We Go Now? centers around religious conflicts between Muslims and Christians. After the success of her last film, Caramel (2007) writer, actress, director, Labaki uses another film to illustrate a story with female protagonists. The protagonists fight with “flowers and prayers” to protect their loved ones from entering war. Beginning with wives and mothers dancing in unison, the central lesson of townswomen fighting to maintain equilibrium continues throughout the film. By acting as Amale, one of the leading roles, Labaki promotes coexistence through a feminist scope, fighting to expose the destructiveness of prejudice.
Where do We Go Now? starts with the impoverished town’s only television being given reception. The village’s eyes are opened to the religious tensions going on in the rest of Lebanon. Labaki shows how awareness spreads violence in the Middle East rather than stopping it. At the same time, she attempts to spread awareness of how religious tensions transform into violent conflict. The chaos starts when a Muslim breaks the church’s cross. Once the protagonists’ sons and husbands are at risk of death, they are willing to do anything to save lives and put an end to future religious quarrels.
In addition to thematically dealing with the conflict in Lebanon, the movie is also aesthetically pleasing. The Arabic musical elements of the film are light and mainly center on the romantic aspects of the plot. The background music is delightfully imperative when the single, Christian Amale flirts with a Muslim man who comes to her café. This flirtation adds a much needed touch of love and eccentricity to the melancholy tone. Rated 12A, the most promiscuous part of the film is during a lavish dance scene when, randomly, a group of Ukranian exotic female dancers’ bus breaks down in a small town in Lebanon. In addition to wearing flamboyant clothing, they “Spellbound” the boys during a beautiful dance scene, in a section that’s a little jarring with the film’s overall tone. The lighting and choreography add a special mystical feeling to Where Do We Go Now?
Although it received the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, this film is not focused enough to leave a lasting impact. Nevertheless, Nadine Labaki thrives in elegantly communicating the baneful reality of religious intolerance leading to loss of morality.