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Where Do We Go Now? (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 6, 2012 by  



Comedy and melodrama with Christian vs. Muslim complexities are not easy to feature in a film, but what filmmaker/actress Nadine Labaki is able to accomplish is sending out a message that a women can make a difference if given a chance but also a personal film about a mother wanting to protect her family.  Featuring beautiful cinematography and a unique storyline, “Where Do We Go Now?” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2011 Les Films des Tournelles, Pathe Production, Les Films de Beyrouth, United Artistic Group, Chaocorp, France 2 Cinema and Prima TV. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Where Do We Go Now? (Et maintenant on va où?)

FILM RELEASE: 2011

DURATION: 102 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (widescreen 2:35:1), Arabic 5.0 DTS-HD MA, English and French Stereo Subtitles: English, French

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: PG-13 (For Mature Thematic Material, May Be Inappropriate for Children Under 13)

Release Date: September 11, 2012

Directed by Nadine Labaki

Written by Rodney Al Haddid, Thomas Bidegain, Jihad Hojeily, Nadine Labaki, Sam Mounier

Produced by Nadine Labaki, Anne-Dominique Toussaint

Co-Producer: Tarak Ben Ammar, Romain Le Grand, Hesham Abdel Khalek

Executive Producer: Lara Chekerjian, Romain Le Grand

Music by Khaled Mouzannar

Cinematography by Christophe Offenstein

Edited by Veronique Lange

Casting by Abla Khoury

Production Design by Cynthia Zahar

Costume Design by Caroline Labaki

Starring:

Claude Baz Moussawbaa as Takla

Leyla Hakim as Afaf

Nadine Labaki as Amale

Yvonne Maalouf as Yvonne

Antoinette Noufaily as Saydeh

Julian Farhat as Rabih

Ali Haidar as Roukoz

Kevin Abboud as Nassim

Petra Saghbini as Rita

Mostafa Al Sakka as Hammoudi

Sasseen Kawzally as Issam

Caroline LAbaki as Aida

Anjo Rihane as Fatmeh

Mohammad Aquil as Abou Ahmad

Set in a remote village where the church and the mosque stand side by side, WHERE DO WE GO NOW? follows the antics of the town’s women to keep their blowhard men from starting religious war. Women heartsick over sons, husbands and fathers lost to previous flare-ups unite to distract their men with clever ruses, from faking a miracle to hiring a troupe of Ukrainian dancers.

From Lebanese director Nadine Labaki (“Caramel”, “Bosta”, “The Smallest Red Carpet, But the Biggest Heart”) comes her whimsical comedy about women of a village wanting to make a difference when their husbands of Christian or Muslim faith are fighting with each other.

The film was inspired by Nadine’s experience in Lebanon in war after two decades of peace and two opposing political parties moving towards war.  As an expecting mother, Nadine saw neighbors and friends turn to enemies because they belonged to opposing religious groups.  And so, she thought about her son and what kind of world he would see when he was born.  Would he be like everyone else who engaged in war?  As a mother, she thought about wanting to keep her son out of war and with the film, it developed from being one woman to a village of women who would do all they can to keep their son’s from engaging in war.

The film premiered as part of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival’s “Un Certain Regard” and won a “Cadillac People’s Choice Award” at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.

And now “Where Do We Go Now?” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

“Where Do We Go Now?” begins with a group of women, all dressed in black motioning to the cemetery but swaying in a dance.  In the village, we are introduced to a beautiful cafe owner named Amale (portrayed by Nadine Labaki) and we see sexual attraction between her and the village painter, Rabih (portrayed by Julian Farhat).

We are also introduced to a boy named Roukoz (portrayed by Ali Haidar) who goes outside of the village with his cousin Nassim to bring back supplies.  And we see how people in the village depend on these supplies.

We are also introduced to the village mayor, his wife Yvonne, Rabih’s brother Issam and his wife Aida and various characters.

Change comes to the village when a television is brought to town and it’s a chance for people in the village to watch television and enjoy!  But when they turn on the television and watch the news, what they see are beautiful meteorologist and immediately the guys become interested in seeing women on television and of course their wives are a bit disgusted by it.

But in this small village, a church and mosque stand side-by-side and when the congregation goes to church, they find out from the priest that the church has suffered damage but also tells them that the Muslims have nothing to do with it.  Meanwhile, goats have entered the mosque and they are urged not to blame the Christians for what has happened.

As the group goes to watch television one night, immediately things get hostile and chaotic as the Christians and Muslims begin fighting with each other.  And things eventually start to get violent.

Worried that things could get worse with the men, the Christian and Muslim wives who bicker but yet get along with each other, decide to team up and find a way to stop their men from fighting, they decide perhaps sex can ease their men’s tensions.  So the women hire Eastern European dancers to entertain their men.

But will this be enough to calm down the tensions between the Christian and Muslim men?

VIDEO:

“Where Do We Go Now?” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1).  Picture quality for the film is beautiful.  Cinematography by Christophe Offenstein (“Tell No One”, “Little White Lies”, “Whatever You Say”) is warm, colorful and there is amazing details when it comes to the close-ups.  Wide shots are also breathtaking.  I didn’t detect any scratches, dust or any problems while viewing the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Where Do We Go Now?” is presented in Arabic 5.0 DTS-HD MA.  Lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and music.  While the film is primarily center and front-channel driven, there are moments where ambiance of surroundings can be heard through the surround channels. Especially during the more action-paced scenes.  Also, the film has a wonderful musical score by Composer Khaled Mouzanar .

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Where Do We Go Now?” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Director Nadine Labaki and Composer Khaled Mouzannar
  • An Evening with Writer/Director/Actress Nadine Labaki, Composer Khaled Mouzanar and Producer Anne-Dominique Toussaint – (39:11) Director and actress Nadine Labaki explains what inspired her to create this film and we learn about the production, music of the film and more.
  • The Making of Where Do We Go Now? –  (18:16) – Behind-the-scenes of the making of the film.
  • Where Do We Go Now?: Making the Music – (12:16) A featurette on composer Khaled Mouzanar and the making of the music for the film.

Nadine Labaki takes one of the most complex situations that has affected various regions of the world for centuries and tries to find a silver lining through comedy and understanding.  But also with hope.

May it be in Lebanon or another country, there religious differences between Christians and Muslims are serious and what makes Labaki’s film so fascinating is the fact that the village featured, is not affected by media, television, newspapers or Internet.

Sure, when they try to introduce television to the masses, surely things start to unravel.  There is a scene in which the village, which have co-existed and have remained peaceful, begin watching a newscast that details the ongoing fight between Christian and Muslims and it makes you wonder if that was the intention of Labaki.  To show that religious disagreements are possibly heightened by media.

But watching the film, we see how people do try to make an effort for peace, to not quickly blame the other religion for problems.  But when things get out of hand, the women take charge.  The film was also quite fascinating because it was born out of Nadine Labaki’s experience in Lebanon and wondering how she can keep her son growing up in a world with hostilities.  Facing the absurdity of the conflicts and with her experience, it’s an experience that other women share, not wanting their husbands and sons being killed in war.  So, the women decide to take action.

This is very intriguing because we often read in newspapers of how women do not have a voice in the Middle East.  Labaki’s “Where Do We Go Now?” is a film that if the men are the cause of these religious disagreements and can not find peace with one another, perhaps the women of both religions can join forces and nullify these hostilities.

They try to find ways to do it in the film, granted the hiring of dancers and using sex as a way to calming people down can only go so far.  But there is a message in the film.  That women in leadership positions or women who can be empowered, can make a big difference.  The film is not about finding solutions as this turmoil has been ongoing for centuries, but what Labaki was able to create, was a film that although not seen as complete feminism, but belief and hope that women can and will make a difference, if they work together, rally together and believe that they can make a change.

As for the Blu-ray release, the cinematography is beautiful and the picture quality is fantastic.  Lossless audio is appropriate and you also get a good amount of special features included.

While the film has a good blend of comedy and even music-driven scenes, some may find the blend of comedy and melodrama to be a bit jarring.  Personally, not only do I see it as progressive, I see it as a film that possibly can inspire or add hope to many women.

But I do admit that the film is quite problematic when you try to balance comedy and melodrama.  With something as tense as Christian and Muslim relations, when people are killed, comedy is not a way to diffuse the situation.   But Labaki does try and accomplishes in sending out a message that women in various countries can possibly make a difference.

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