"A Sweeter Side of Beirut – But Not Too Sweet"
What You Need To Know:
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.
(B, FR, C, Ro, Ho, O, LL, V, S, N, D, M) Mostly mixed moral worldview with religious references from both Muslim and Roman Catholic Christian beliefs including prayers to God, Allah, two women pray the rosary, shots of Mary and crucifixes shown, and women talks about her “Christian name,” all set within a Romantic world where love and passion are the driving forces in these women’s lives, plus one woman is a repressed homosexual and one quick conversation about reading a person’s future in tea leaves; five light obscenities and five light profanities (“My God,” etc.); no violence in story but quick shot of pro wrestling can be seen playing on a television in the background; sexual content includes man rubs woman’s thigh under a table, little boy looks up a woman’s skirt, adulterous affair between married man and single woman, and a bride-to-be mentions not being a virgin so she gets stitches to appear to be a virgin; nudity includes shots of cleavage and woman in underwear as she gets a leg waxing; no alcohol use; several scenes of depicted cigarette smoking; and, miscellaneous immorality includes woman lying to her family and friends about her adulterous affair and woman throws away police parking tickets.
CARAMEL explores the relationships of five women who live out their lives in a beauty salon in Beirut. In between haircuts and body waxings, their conversations revolve around men, sex and motherhood as the women confide in each other about their hopes, dreams and fears.
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.
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