Where Do We Go Now? (2012)
Where Do We Go Now? is a film from Lebanese writer-director-actress Nadine Labaki that was an official selection of the 55th annual San Francisco International Film Festival and opens in limited cities around the US this weekend.
In a small, remote Lebanese village, Christians and Muslims live separately in peace. When the women of the town, who congregate together, hear reports of violence breaking out in other parts of their country, they try to prevent their husbands from finding out. They break the town’s only television in an attempt to block the news broadcasts, fake miracles, hide the men’s guns, and even hire Eastern European strippers to stay in the town as a distraction. The women try every tactic they can think of – no matter how outlandish – to stop the men from fighting.
Writer-director-actress Nadine Labaki received a large amount of positive press for her debut film, 2007’s Caramel, for making a heartfelt, comedic film set in Beirut that did not tackle political issues. While she was pregnant with her first child, she was inspired to address violent religious division of Lebanon’s history. As civil war was being waged, Labaki watched neighbors suddenly become enemies. She imaged her son growing up in this environment and thought of the lengths she would take to prevent him from fighting.
Both sides are shown fair and equally. In this case, that means that both the Christian and Muslim men are shown as irrational hotheads. The only adult male characters who don’t seem hell bent on fighting are the imam and the priest. All of the women – of both religious beliefs – are rational and cooperative. Whether it’s to stop violence or simply to gossip, they socialize with each other and they work together with greater integration than the men, seemingly giving credence to the assumption that there would be no war if women ruled the world.
Where Do We Go Now? is a combination of many genres. Comedy and drama merge as the film addresses a sobering political issue. It also moves the story along with some Bollywood-style musical interludes. But the ending may hang slightly unresolved. This comedy cannot provide a solution to religious struggles that have been going on for generations, but it is a very humorous way of showing the lunacy of the conflict.