Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Caramel, Nadine Labaki’s film about fighting for forbidden love in Lebanon, became a film-festival favorite 

Nadine Labaki: A dessert for the eyes.
  • Nadine Labaki: A dessert for the eyes.

The multiply blessed young Lebanese writer-director Nadine Labaki looks sublimely like Anna Magnani crossed with Penélope Cruz. More important, she has the brass and the chops to not only direct her first film, but also star in it.

In Caramel, Labaki plays a Beirut beautician stewing in a dead-end affair with a married man, while all around her, a multigenerational bevy of colleagues and clients copes with lesbian urges, menopause, and senior dating in a society hostile to all three. The film made the festival rounds last year, including a stop at Cannes, where it received a lengthy standing ovation.

The beauty-parlor romantic comedy has been done to death, but what Caramel lacks in originality is made up for in sensuality and astute commentary, as it tackles the way Lebanese women sit uncomfortably between their country's patriarchal tradition and westernized modernity.

Labaki shows an assured hand with her mostly nonpro actors, who were largely cast for the resemblance between their lives and the women they play. There's more cheek than chic in this Frenchified bit of fluff, but also something deep and poignant about its dilemmas, which include a Muslim bride-to-be agonizing over whether to get her broken hymen stitched in time for a virgin wedding.

Labaki treats her characters with wistful tenderness, raucous practicality, and enough romantic chutzpah to give almost every woman a moment, at least, when she can have exactly what she wants.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club


Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.


Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.


Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Latest in Screens

Read the Digital Print Issue

November 17, 2021

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Calendar

Staff Pick Events

  • Season's Bleedings @ Capitol Theatre

    • Sat., Dec. 4
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show @ Cedar Lee Theatre

    • First Saturday of every month

© 2021 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.


Website powered by Foundation