Caramel – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

An unassuming beauty salon in Beirut is the setting for Caramel, which was Lebanon’s official entry as Best Foreign Film for this year’s Academy Awards. The story revolves around the five women who work there, offering quick looks into their lives as they struggle with varying issues. There’s enough variety to provide something that every woman can relate to. The title, Caramel, refers to the wax used by the women in the salon.

The main character in the ensemble cast is the stunningly beautiful Layale, played by Nadine Labaki who also directed the film. She provides the most poignant storyline in the entire film as a woman desperately in love with a married man. In the beauty shop there is also a bride to be with a secret, a lesbian woman with a crush on a customer, an aging actress and an older woman trying to catch herself a man.

The different characters in the film are important as they all interact with Layale, but they are never given the opportunity to shine like she is. I guess that’s what happens when you’re also the director.

The script, which was written by Nadine Labaki along with two men, is shaky as well. It fluctuates between being charming, sweet, and poignant, and being dull, boring and fluffy. The ideas that are used are great ones though. The theme of the women being in modern times, seemingly struggling to keep their country’s traditions alive is one that is very real. It’s a shame the story doesn’t really ever come together.

This is a beautiful film debut by Labaki, however. I’m a sucker for color, and this film is immersed in warm tones of orange, red, and yellow. The photography is breathtaking. It shows she has plenty of potential to make a followup with more substance to it.

This DVD is presented with a standard 1.78:1 aspect ratio and Dolby Digital sound. The colors are gorgeous. The video quality would have to be downright terrible not to enjoy the visuals in this film.

The extras on this DVD are sparse. All we get is an interview with Nadine Labaki in which she discusses the writing process and starring in the film.

Previews for Girl with a Pearl Earring, Stage Beauty, A Good Woman, Sexo por Compasion, Ladron Que Roba A Ladron, and Away From Her

Even though I didn’t enjoy this film as much as I hoped I would, Caramel is still a sweet story that will most likely appeal to chick flick fans. Nadine Labaki is a name to look out for in the future.

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Lionsgate presents Caramel. Directed by Nadine Labaki. Starring Nadine Labaki, Yasmine al Masri, Joanna Moukarzel. Written by Nadine Labaki. Running time: 93 minutes. Rated PG. Released on DVD: June 17, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.

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