Lest I sound too flip with that headline, it refers to a pretty good movie I saw tonight. "Caramel" is a new release, recently reviewed by the New York Times, about a group of women who gather in a beauty shop in Beirut. I had been expecting something a bit more political, given the setting, but it doesn't delve into current political events.
The unrest and violence in Lebanon is a very vague undercurrent; mostly the film focuses on the women's lives and the unrest they deal with in themselves and in their relationships. One woman is having an affair with a married man, another is an actress terribly stressed about fighting for roles against ever-younger competitors.
As A.O. Scott points out in his New York Times review, this film doesn't have the kind of bizarre twists we see in the wonderful, female-centric films of Pedro Almodovar (I am a HUGE fan of his work!) And it's not as upbeat (and a bit unreal) as, say, Queen Latifah's Beauty Shop.
But the characters in Caramel are very real and interesting; the backdrop of Beirut very unusual; and the dilemmas of modern women living within still- traditional family structures held my attention..
The film is shot in French and Arabic, with English subtitles (Thank God -- I cannot stand dubbing!)
Oh, and Caramel in this movie refers to a method of hair removal -- something similar to sugaring or whatever alternatives there are to hot wax. It looks quite painful. A monthly manicure and pedicure are about as deep into the world of esthetics as I'm generally willing to go!