Caramel (PG)

Film image

The ViewBirmingham Review

StarStarStarNo StarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner25/10/2007

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 96 mins

Enjoyable comedy drama with echoes of Almodovar, thanks to a superb script and strong performances from its likeable cast.

What's it all about?
Caramel is a romantic comedy drama set in a Beirut beauty salon, where five women regularly meet and confide in each other. Writer-director Nadine Labaki takes the lead role as Layale, a beautiful 30-year-old woman who's in love with a married man, while oblivious to the fact that a local cop (Adel Karam) has a crush on her.

The other women include: co-worker Nisirine (Yasmine Al Masri), who is desperate to prevent her Muslim fiance from discovering that she's no longer a virgin; Rima (Joanna Moukarzel), who develops a crush on one of her female clients; Jamale (Gisele Aouad), a divorcee who is afraid of growing old; and Rose (Siham Haddad), an elderly seamstress who has devoted her life to taking care of her slightly bonkers older sister (Aziza Semaan), but who experiences a glimmer of romantic possibility when a male client asks her out to dinner.

The Good
The title refers to a toffee-like product that is used for hair removal in the Middle East, but it stands as a perfect metaphor for the themes of the film, in that it's a sugary, delicious substance that can also burn you. Accordingly, the film's five different storylines elicit several different emotions, some sweet, some bittersweet.

Labaki has assembled an impressive cast of non-professional actors: Gisele Aouad is particularly good as Jamale – indeed, her character wouldn't be out of place in an Almodovar movie. Similarly, Labaki herself proves as strong an actress as she is a writer-director, indicating that she could have a Woody Allen-style career ahead of her.

The Great
Aside from being beautifully shot and containing several wonderful scenes, Caramel also presents an intriguing portrait of life in modern-day Beirut, with Christians and Muslims living side by side and happily going about their lives – politics are left very firmly in the background.

Worth seeing?
Caramel is as sweet as its name suggests and it marks Nadine Labaki out as a definite talent to watch.

Film Trailer

Caramel (PG)
Caramel has been reviewed by 4 users
01 Focus (15)

Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro

02 Selma (12A)

David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth

03 Far from the Madding Crowd (tbc)

Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaert...

04 Chappie (tbc)

Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Sharlto Copley

05 A Most Violent Year (15)

Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo

Content updated: 19/05/2019 17:59

Latest Film Reviews

Film Blog

Urban Pundit

Keep up to date with everything in film and cinema at Urban Pundit, the exciting new blog.

Film of the Week

The Conjuring (15)

Hugely enjoyable, genuinely scary horror flick that provides a welcome throwback to classic 1970s chillers, thanks to impeccable production design, a superb script, powerfully atmospheric direction, intense set-pieces and terrific performances.

Latest Close Up

Noah Baumbach Interview

The Frances Ha director discusses co-writing the script with Greta Gerwig, shooting against the backdrop of New York and the real lives of the city’s people, Greta Gerwig’s performance, the music in the film and the picture's visual style.