WHERE DO WE GO NOW?
Keeping the Peace
Release Date: May 11, 2012
Starring: Claude Baz Moussawbaa, Layla
Hakim, Nadine Labaki, Yvonne
Maalouf, Antoinette Noufaily,
Julien Farhat, Ali Haidar,
Kevin Abboud, Petra Saghbini
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 100 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics/Sony
Director: Nadine Labaki
Executive Producer: None
Producer: Anne-Dominique Toussaint
Writer: Nadine Labaki, Jihad Hojeily,
Rodney Al Haddad
Address Comments To:Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and Marcia Bloom
Sony Pictures Classics (Sony Pictures Entertainment)
550 Madison Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 833-8833; Fax: (212) 833-8844
Web Page: www.sonyclassics.com; Email: Sony_Classics@spe.sony.com
The movie is set in a remote village where a church and a mosque stand side by side. The movie opens with the Christian and Muslim women from the village slowly marching to the local cemetery where their loved ones are buried. The women are heartsick over all the lives that have been lost due to the religious strife in their village. They get together to trick their men-folk from starting another violent conflict. They have their work cut out for them when a boy accidentally breaks the cross inside the church and someone lets goats loose in the mosque. The problem gets extremely serious when one of the boys in the village is accidentally shot dead while visiting another town.
WHERE DO WE GO NOW is laced with tragedy and drama, but its female director, Nadine Labaki (CARAMEL), keeps the movie’s tone comical. She does this even when the boy gets killed. There are also a couple musical scenes. One of them involves a song that a local Christian woman and Muslim man sing to themselves about their romantic feelings for one another.
The main artistic problem with the movie is that there are too many characters. This dilutes the power of the story. For example, while the song between the two lovers mentioned above was very nice, their relationship seems really extraneous to the main story. Consequently, viewers may come away feeling they never got to know any of the characters really well.
There’s a bigger problem with the movie, however. The tricks the women use are just that – tricks. And, the tricks include lying and deceit. For example, at one point, the women fake a miracle. At another point, they actually drug the men. Also, the final solution they arrive at is for the married women and mothers to actually switch religions, which perplexes their husbands and sons. This solution seems a bit politically correct, as if the differences between Christianity and Islam are not that great. Also, it’s hard to see how that solution drives home the movie’s point that religious wars are absurd.
Religious tolerance may be an ideal, especially religious tolerance among Christianity, Judaism and Islam. However, is religious tolerance even possible with Islam, which seems tied inextricably to the violence-oriented demands and willful deceit of the Koran and Sharia Law?
Whether it is or isn’t, the differences between religions cannot be papered over by utopian notions of peace and hope. Also, Christians must be free to appeal openly to the conscience of other people, whether they be Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, or atheist. Of course, even when Christians do appeal to other people about the Truth and Goodness of the Christian faith, they should do so knowing that it’s not us who really convinces anyone of the Truth of Christianity, it’s God Himself, working through the Holy Spirit. As Paul writes in 2 Timothy 2:24-26, “The Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”
WHERE DO WE GO NOW also contains plenty of foul language, a lot of it light. In one sequence, the women hire some nearby Ukrainian strippers to distract the men, not by their nudity but by their beauty. All in all, therefore, WHERE DO WE GO NOW warrants extreme caution.
WHERE DO WE GO NOW has too many characters. It has some arresting moments of drama and tragedy, but it is mostly a comedy. The biggest problem is that the women resort to tricks and deceit to stop the men from trying to kill one another. Also, the ending is a bit politically correct. Finally, WHERE DO WE GO NOW has plenty of foul language, so extreme caution is warranted.