Starring: Nadine Labaki, Julian Farhat, Leyla Hakim
Directed by: Nadine Labaki (“Caramel”)
Written by: Nadine Labaki (“Caramel”), Jihad Hojeily (“Caramel”), Thomas Bidegain (“A Prophet”), Rodney Al Haddid (debut), Sam Mounier (debut)
The lonely village featured in the Lebanese film “Where Do We Go Now?” is at an impasse. On both cultural and religious fronts, the town is not sure what their next step should be to keep up with the changes happening in the Middle East. In a melting pot of situations and tones, director Nadine Labaki (“Caramel”) attempts to shed some kind of light on the differences between Christians and Muslims, but only manages to create a genre mash-up that hardly gets to the heart of the matter.
As a comedy, “Where Do We Go Now” relies too much on stereotypes. It almost plays out like a Lebanese version of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” without the celebration. As a drama, the film fails to evoke any emotional response to the religious tension that arises in the village and surrounding regions. Labaki lumps together so much content – characters, secondary narratives, and musical interludes – you’d think you were watching some kind of Middle Eastern variety show.
What keeps “Where Do We Go Now” from falling completely apart is Labaki’s talent as a director. Although her film ultimately gets away from her, there are a few scenes where she takes control and finds her own style. It’s most evident in the opening scene when Labaki and the women of the village march down a dusty road leading to a cemetery in perfect sync. The women keep a beat with their hands to their hearts. Their heads and hips sway back and forth in unison. Unfortunately, it really is the only time in “Where Do We Go Now” when everything feels like it’s part of the same story.