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Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Secret of the Grain

Q: What’s the movie about?

A: In this French indy, a French-Arab man (Habib Boufares) gets laid off after 35 years of work on the docks, and decides to try to open a restaurant on a boat, in the hopes of leaving something behind for his family.

Q: Who’s in the movie?

A: Habib Boufares, Hafsia Herzi, Farida Benkhetache, Abdelhamid Aktouche, Bouraouia Marzouk, Alice Houri, Leila D'Issernio, Abelkader Djeloulli, Olivier Loustau, Sabrina Ouazani, Mohamed Benabdeslem, Bruno Lochet, Cyril Favre, Sami Zitouni, Hatika Karaoui, Henri Cohen, Jeanne Corporon, Viloaine de Carne

Q: Is this movie worth the price of admission?

A: PhotobucketProceed with Caution. This film is an intimate and accurate portrait of what family life looks like for a French family of Arab descent. Culturally, the way Arabs fit into French society is not dissimilar from the way Black people fit into American society.  So much like a Black-American film, this story is filled with subtle depictions of racism, as well as cultural inside jokes and lingo. It's unfortunate that it takes over half the film before anything starts happening story wise in this 2 1/2 hour long piece, because when the drama gets going, in the final hour, it's gut-wrenching and painfully suspenseful.

Q: Will this movie make me laugh?

A: If you've never been privy to the French child rearing style-- which consists primarily of publicly humiliating your child with yelling and insults, until he is shamed into doing as you please-- then you will get an insightful glimpse into this humorous, yet deeply disturbing form of love.

Q: Will this movie make me cry?

A: If the child rearing style doesn't make you laugh, because you recognize it for what it really is-- a not-so-subtly veiled form of child abuse-- then it could also make you cry. But joking aside, the film does grow to be pretty sad, and I imagine it gets even sadder, were we to see what happens after the screen fades to black.

Q: Will this movie be up for any awards?

A: It has won all but 2 of the 19 Awards it's been nominated for, including several Cesars (the French Academy Awards), and several from the Venice Film Festival. Currently, it's in competition for its 20th nomination for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Foreign Film.

Q: How is the Acting?

A: The acting is reason alone to go see this film (and for the record, I don't generally believe in seeing films just because the acting is good). There is not a remotely false moment to be found, as the actors argue, talk over each other, and have emotional meltdowns for hours at a time. Amazing. Who are these people?

Q: How is the Directing?

A: Whether at a large family gathering or the extravagant party for 100 people that goes on for the last hour of the film, the director, Abdellatif Kechiche, manages to capture every little moment with quick cuts and a hand held verity cam that puts both Rachel Getting Married and The Hills to shame.

Q: How is the story/script?

A: Once again, this is the problem. While the dialogue is so true it almost takes your breath away, the plot points (which do ultimately lead to something compelling), come out more slowly than a guy writing his memoir by blinking his left eye. (If you don't get that obvious reference to French film, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, then you have not seen one of my most highly recommended movies of 2007, and you should rent it.)

Q: Where can I see the trailer?


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