Women should run the world. Since the days of the Greeks and probably even before writing was invented, women have known how to manipulate men. But they seldom manage to get into positions of sufficient authority to make things happen politically – especially not in places like the Middle East.
In a remote, unnamed Middle Eastern village, black-clad Christian and Muslim women trudge up a hill yet again to visit fallen loved ones in the cemetery, grounds swollen by the victims of sectarian violence.
It’s been quiet for a while, but when someone rigs up a TV and the men see that religious violence is a fact in their country, the women fear the testosterone backlash and sabotage the set. But the cat is already out of the bag, and internecine bickering begins.
In Where Do We Go Now? director Nadine Labaki posits a feminine plot to keep the men from fighting, rather like the women of Greece in Aristophane’s Lysistrata. But these women, led by Amale (Labaki), will use subterfuge rather than withholding sex. They manufacture fake miracles. They feed the guys hashish brownies.
But the crowning ploy – importing a troupe of Ukrainian “exotic dancers” who happen to be in the area – creates the most fun. These ladies are pretty, sexy and game – a perfect distraction.
Is it that simple? Of course not. Does silliness in the face of seriousness wreak havoc with the film’s tone? You bet.
But Labaki’s touch is light, her characters fun and human, and the romance she concocts between Amale and handyman Rabih (Julian Farhat) is charming and seems genuine. She uses real villagers in Lebanon rather than professional actors, to good effect.
Nadine Labaki as Amale and Julien Farhat
And even the musical numbers (yep!) seem to suggest that nothing is really important enough to justify murder.
Photo Credits: Rudy Bou Chebel / Sony Pictures Classics