Angeline R. Hazime
Tonight I watched an independent film at the Loft Cinema in Tucson, AZ, titled "Caramel." This romantic comedy was Lebanon's official submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 80th Annual Academy Awards. It is the story of several Lebanese woman living their daily lives in Beirut while running a beauty shop. It appeared at first to represent their love lives, but for me it was so much more than that. The title "Caramel" is symbolic of something deeper; something inside the women's souls even. Caramel is smooth and tasty, and rich and sweet, yet it can be so sticky and hard to chew. It is used for waxing; the desired way to remove hair from the body in Lebanon - not just for women but for the men. Actually, I am pleased with the title because waxing in Arabic, especially Lebanese culture, is so central. My Lebanese husband did it on average once a week to his face. In this film the process of the waxing with caramel really is used in key points to represent the way it can be smooth and inviting, even warm... For me it represented these ladies desire for love and acceptance; acceptance of themselves. And then there is the moment of when the caramel goes on and it gets painful and aggressive. I believe the writer/ director Nadine Labaki's point is that love and self identity can be just as painful and aggressive.
I also enjoyed how Lebanese culture was shown in the film. All the dynamics of the different people, and also how Christians and Muslims do actually get a long in Beirut. It isn't all what the American Media makes it out to be over there. The use of the beauty shop and the different subplots was so enthralling for me. Yes, I understood much of what was going on for I personally have been exposed to Lebanese culture being that I am from the Detroit area in Michigan, but I feel anyone would appreciate this opportunity to get a window into to not just the Lebanese people, but to a side of Middle Eastern culture. It is far from the caves of Afghanistan.
It is a foreign film, so the paradigm is going to be much more different than what Americans are use to. I loved the ending and I knew its point, but that is all I will say for the ending. I don't want to give it away. I will say though that one must give into the flow of Caramel and follow the smoothness and the ripping effect in one, and you will get it.