Friday, March 28, 2008


Original title: Sukkar banat
In Arabic and French with English subtitles

Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon. There are wide-ranging estimates of Beirut's population, from as low as 938,940 people to a high of 2,012,000. The lack of an exact figure is due to the fact that no "comprehensive" population census has been taken in Lebanon since 1932.

It is usually referred to by Lebanese people by its French name, Beyrouth and is one of the most religiously diverse cities in all of the Middle East. There are nine major religious sects in Beirut: Sunni Muslim, Shiite Muslim, Druze, Maronite Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Armenian Catholic, and Protestant. Family matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance are still handled by the religious authorities representing a person's faith.

Travel and Leisure magazine’s World’s Best Awards for 2006 ranked Beirut the 9th best city in the world, falling just short of New York City but coming ahead of San Francisco.

Nadine Labaki: Layale, 30-year-old owner of the Si Belle beauty salon
Aziza Semaan: Lili, a bit of an odd-ball
Sihame Haddad: her younger sister Rose, a seamstress
Adel Karam: motorcycle policeman Youssef
Yasmine Elmasri: hair stylist Nisrine
Ismaïl Antar: her fiancé Bassam
Gisèle Aouad: aspiring actress Jamale
Joanna Moukarze: the shop’s shampooist Rima
Dimitri Staneofski: an elderly gentleman Charles

A film about women providing support to one another is not that unusual. What sets this one apart is the fact it takes place in a foreign country where the usual raft of problems is exacerbated by cultural and religious values.

Well acted throughout with plenty of funny situations and lots of love, even if it’s not the kind they were looking for. Some of the camera work is very unusual, a fresh look so to speak.

One minor complaint: Jamale is called upon to play the wanna-be actress almost as a cartoon character and her screen test goes on far too long.

for thematic elements involving sexuality, language and some smoking.

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