Wednesday, April 24, 2013

When women take control

"The story I tell is for all who want to hear. A tale of those who fast, a tale of those who pray, a tale of a lonely town, mines scattered all around. Caught up in a war, split to its very core. To clans with broken hearts under a burning sun. Their hands stained with blood in the name of a cross or a crescent. From this lonely place, which has chosen peace, whose history is spun of barbed wire and guns."

It's often the fairer sex which is more sensible than the stronger one when it comes to dealing with emotions. Some women think with their minds and some men with their hearts. Such are the women in a small Lebanese village; they strive to maintain peace amidst tensions in the surrounding areas. Where Do We Go Now (2011) sheds light on how a small group of men (from two different communities that are already on the edge) is unable to withstand the ugly wave of conflicts in the name of religion on their own. How the women who are tired of losing their men to wars stand up and decide to ensure peace at any cost.

The story is set in a remote village away from the violence rampaging around the country. In this village Christians and Muslims live together without much trouble. The church and mosque are opposite to each other and the people mix along well and co-exist in harmony. Even though the two communities had their differences they seem to be living with each other in peace. The trouble in the village begins with a broken cross in the church and some farm animals soiling the mosque which is more than enough to trigger the hot blooded men as they instantly accuse each other for those incidents. It's the women who act sensibly and try in every possible way to prevent the men from taking the path of violence and being swept in the country's religiously motivated civil war.

As the news of the religious tensions in the country spread they remain unaffected and make keeping peace in the village their ambition. Right from cutting off the wires which connect and provide signal to the only television set in the village to roping in Ukrainian pole dancers, the ladies do everything possible to keep their men's minds away from the ongoing tensions. Not to forget the use of hashish to get them high and keep them distracted. War was perhaps the only solution for these men when it came to putting an end to religious tensions but fortunately their women thought otherwise and targeted their weapons so that they can hide them. Their tactics may have managed to keep the men away from killing each other but an unfortunate event involving a death of a young boy caught in communal riots outside of the village triggers the inevitable.

 Priest: "Did we get away with it?"
Imam: "Down here maybe. But up there, I'm not so sure."
There are different shades of emotions in this movie and sources suggest that the actors had never acted before, each one of them gives a quite remarkable performance. Director Nadine Labaki who also acts in this movie cited the problems in Lebanon as her inspiration for making it. She mixes harmony, humour and tension while telling her story. There is a romance between a christian woman and a muslim man, there are songs which involve dancing and then there are tense moments as the men get hellbent on killing each other due to the unavoidable incidents involving their religions. There are times when it seems a bit too much which can be seen in the scene where the mayor's wife pretends to be talking to the virgin Mary but all in all it goes well with the plot of the movie. The movie revolves around a sensitive topic in the form of communal tension which  involves women from the Middle East taking initiative and bringing peace back into their homes. After all the ups and downs along the way the movie ends with a bold resolution which puts an end to the hatred. If only the world worked according to Labaki's imagination then this would be a perfect solution for peace.

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