Review: Where Do We Go Now? dir. Nadine Labaki
Where Do We Go Now?, latest release from the acclaimed director/screenwriter/actress Nadine Labaki, will land in UK cinemas tomorrow. BEVer Sonia Zadurian gives us a hint of what to expect.
The release of Where Do We Go Now? marks director Nadine Labaki’s second feature film after her much celebrated debut, Caramel (2007). Having directed, co-written and starred in both Where Do We Go Now? and Caramel, Labaki’s distinctive flair on both sides of the camera is proving difficult to ignore.
Set in a peaceful Lebanese village, Where Do We Go Now? follows the Muslim and Christian inhabitants of a small community who live in the shadows of dangerous religious fighting. As tensions mount in the cities, the women of the village must go to great lengths to prevent the men from turning on one another, but it soon seems impossible to protect their homes from the bitterness of such a long established conflict.
The film opens with a monologue which is sombre in both content and tone, as a group of mourning women from the village walk to a nearby graveyard to remember the men they have lost to violence. The procession then begins to ebb and flow to the haunting rhythm of a funeral march. As their loss echoes across the barren landscape, their movements become more fluid and an unexpected dance sequence is born. This opening scene is indicative of the tone which will pervade the film; that of a distinct dichotomy between darkness and light.
Where Do We Go Now? presents sequences which fill the screen with light and life. Touching exchanges, bright comedy montages and joyous musical interludes create a strong sense of community and love. However, these are contrasted with dark and desolate scenes of anger, violence and death. The majority of the film is spent watching the women carry out increasingly elaborate schemes in order to keep the men from fighting, with the schemes themselves ranging from the hilarious to the heartbreaking. This harsh juxtaposition of comedy and tragedy makes for both a highly enjoyable yet emotionally devastating experience.
One of the strongest elements of Where Do We Go Now? is that of performance. The events of the film revolve around the preservation of peace within the community. The utterly believable cast bring the fictional village to life, creating characters and relationships that the audience become strongly invested in. These performances show an incredible range and will produce laughter and tears in even the most cynical viewer, as they encompass the subtlety of the women’s secrecy, exaggerated comedic exchanges and desperate moments of despair.
Contrasting light and dark to remarkable effect, the film is at once poignant, joyful and thought-provoking. A rare creature indeed, Where Do We Go Now? is an absolute must-see.
Where Do We Go now? will be out in UK cinemas 22 June.