A Sweeter Side of Beirut – But Not Too Sweet
Release Date: February 01, 2008
Starring: Nadine Labaki, Yasmine
Elmasri, Joanna Moukarzel,
Gisele Aouad, Adel Karam,
Sihame Haddad, and Aziza
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 96 minutes
Distributor: Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate
Director: Nadine Labaki
Executive Producer: None
Producer: Anne-Dominique Toussaint
Writer: Rodney El Haddad, Jihad
Hojeily and Nadine Labaki
Address Comments To:Jon Feltheimer, CEO
Lionsgate AKA Lions Gate Films
2700 Colorado Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Phone: (310) 449-9200
Fax: (310) 255-3870
In this character-driven movie, each woman’s life has its own drama. Layale is in love with a married man. As his mistress, her entire life is wrapped in waiting for his car horn outside to beckon her away to another rendezvous. Nisrine is engaged to be married to a devout Muslim, but how will her beau react when, on their wedding night, he learns that she is not a virgin? Jamale refuses to grow old as she clings to every ounce of youth she has, including faking her menstrual cycle. Rose has given up any chance of romantic love with potential suitors as she has sacrificed her life to take care of her elderly sister. Rima continually tries to hide her attraction to women, especially when a gorgeous new client walks into the salon.
CARAMEL follows no particular plot. It simply looks at the lives of these five women. As a character piece, it is an interesting movie with well-developed relationships and fine performances. In many ways, it is a successful movie. Character-driven movies can sometimes feel slow, but at a brisk 96 minutes, this movie never loses the audience. The performers all succeed in their various roles, especially as we see them work through their personal dramas and support each other as sisters. Also, the movie never focuses on the politics of the Middle East or war or propaganda or any other stereotypical for movies from that region. It is simply a character piece, that’s all. And, at that, it does well.
The movie does, however, contain some objectionable material that warrants MOVIEGUIDE® to recommend caution, despite a moral worldview with some positive Christian references. Although not a major part of the story, various religions are illustrated in the movie. From Muslim to Roman Catholic, the movie shows a more liberal, multicultural Beirut where religion is seen as only part of the various characters’ biographies rather than a major part of their lives.
Also, there are elements of sexuality, including an adulterous affair between a married man and a young woman, even though she eventually leaves the illicit relationship. There are other elements such as the young bride-to-be who is not a virgin, so she sees a doctor who can perform a surgery that could give the illusion to her husband that she is a virgin, as well as light yet graphic content about an older woman who is clinging to her youth and faking her menstrual cycle, not to mention the young woman who is a repressed homosexual who falls in love with a beautiful new client. These elements make CARAMEL a movie that, although decently made and entertaining, probably will be overlooked by most people.
CARAMEL follows no particular plot. It is a character piece that simply looks at the lives of these five women. As a character piece, it is successful. The movie does, however, contain some objectionable material, despite a light moral worldview with some positive Christian references. This content includes some elements of sexuality, including an adulterous affair between a married man and a young woman, a repressed lesbian who falls for a female customer, and a young bride-to-be about to marry a Muslim, who she sees a doctor who can perform a surgery to give the illusion to her husband that she is a virgin. Those elements, along with a liberal, multicultural view of Beirut’s religious landscape, make CARAMEL a movie that, although decently made and entertaining, probably will be overlooked by most people.