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International Film Festival of Kerala 2008 -Day 2 and 3- Caramel

Category: , , , By Manu
Day 2
The second day at the festival was a slow one too with me ending up seeing only one documentary that day- Bob Marley: Exodus 77 .

In this documentary, we witness the tumultuous events of 1977 through Bob Marley's songs and archival footage. It explores why Bob Marley and his music have become synonymous with struggle for freedom and resistance to oppression across the globe. The heart was in the right place for the documentary, but the execution was plain right boring and at times incoherent. A series of disjointed visuals are shown with the backdrop of Bob Marley's songs. At times I almost wished the Exodus Album was a bit smaller. After watching this one I didn't have the heart to go for any other movies that day and returned home.

Day 3
With 3 movies, Music Box, Caramel and Listening to silence, Day 3 was pretty satisfactory.

Caramel(Sukkar Banat)(2007) - Caramel is a Lebanese movie directed by Nadine Labaki, who also stars as a lead role, about the lives of five women in Beirut who meet up at a beauty salon where they discuss subjects like sex, man and motherhood. It is a plce to openly discuss their thoughts and confess private sins and pleasures: Layale is in love with a married man. Nisrine is a Muslim and getting married- but she isn't a virgin. Rima finds herself attracted to women. Jamale is not allowing herself to grow old. Rose is looking after her sister instead of herself.

Nadine Labaki, the director, shows us a city with normal people or more appropriately, normal women whose day-to-day existence makes us smile, laugh, cry, sigh or weep. And therein lies the greatness of the film. Nadine has carefully scripted a tale where she succeeds in keeping the viewer hooked from the first shot.

The beauty parlour is a middle-class location where lighting has been used skillfully and the subtle changes in lighting convey moods effectively. Close-ups of hair being snipped and the routine chore of waxing convey the beautician’s mood. Dialogues are minimal, a shrug of the shoulders, discarding a tissue, the sniping of hair every gesture every close-up manages to convey a whole gamut of emotions. No preachiness, no moralising, just a group of women, each one who’s struggling to come to terms with her life.Only two or three men figure in the whole film, Layale’s married boyfriend, Nisrine’s fiancé and Rose’s elderly suitor. They appear briefly on screen and disappear. There is no place for men in this film. It’s a women’s perspective shown by a woman and again revolves around women.

Labaki steals the show in every scene she is in with that natural charm she has and her stricking good looks. The senile and eccentric sister of Rose is, perhaps, the character which provided the most laughs in the movie. Rose breaks our heart with a performance juggling her only chance at love(so late in her life) and finally throwing it away to look after her crazy sister.

My Verdict - To fully understand the undertones of the movie one must know something about the culture in Lebanon, the oppression women there are facing. If you see the movie with a western backdrop this is just another chick-flick(though a pretty good one at that). The struggle of the five women to go through their lives are rendered as a bittersweet ordeal by making us laugh and cry at the same time. The movie takes us through a journey of self discovery and liberation of the five women in their own unique ways. The Lesbianism, extra marital affair, sex before marriage, all of it are against the customs in Lebanon and yet we find them in the movie which rebels against established customs. The movie ends with the love interest of Rima cuts her hair short symbolizing the liberation women in Lebanon are craving. The movie rightly deserves its 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

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2 comments so far.

  1. raj December 23, 2008 at 8:26 PM
    the movie has a great depth.it touches so many aspects of women's life even though its not loud and protruding.its beautiful.
  2. Manu December 24, 2008 at 7:00 PM
    Yes absolutely.. Got a subdued but yet beautifully elaborate message, and insight into female psyche..

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