When I was writing my yesterday’s post on the virginty obsession I was reminded of the movie “Caramel”, which introduced me to the idea of hymen reconstruction procedures .
The 2007 debut feature by a Lebanese director Nadine Labaki is a story of five women living in Beirut. The point of intersection of the stories is a beauty salon, where a popular Middle Eastern method of epilation by caramel is used (hence the title of the movie).
The film focuses on everyday life and struggles that to some extent are shared by most women worldwide. Layale (in this role the movie director herself) is trapped in a bad romance (Gaga ulalalala) with a married man, so much more difficult in a conservative country. Nisrine has lost her virginity before marriage and her upcoming wedding may reveal her secret that could cause a scandal. Rima doesn’t seem to share the men related problems with her friends as she’s secretly playing for the other team and is much more interested in females. Jamale is an aging actress who doesn’t know how to continue her career in the world that favors youth. Rose has spent her life caring for her sister and only old age brought her the first love. Each of the stories is different but they all focus on love related issues.
The movie is definitely worth watching. Even though it was directed a few years ago it didn’t age as its dealing with universal issues. It gives us an insight into a different world that we really know little about and at the same time shows us that across the boarders we all have similar struggles and needs. Whether we’re a closeted lesbian who needs to repress her sexuality or an expat in the City of Cape Town, we equally feel the universal human need to be loved and accepted.
The atmosphere of intimacy of the film makes it very easy to relate to the characters. The Arabic music adds up to the very particular mood of this feature and we’re really sad when it’s over. The film was first screened on the film festival in Cannes and even though it didn’t end up winning a prize, it managed to mesmerize the audience which resulted in its worldwide distribution and made “Caramel”, according to Wikipedia, the most exposed Lebanese movie.