While sectarian violence serves as the ostensible subject matter of Nadine Labaki's Where Do We Go Now?, the issue of women's roles in Lebanese society stands in plain sight throughout the film. Longstanding family "codes" continue to limit women's agency, and outdated laws afford paltry protection from abuses. Labaki's elegant response to both social issues constitutes a Lebanese Lysistrata.
In a small village, a group of female friends (led by Labaki's Amale) take it upon themselves to distract their Christian and Muslim husbands, boyfriends, and fathers before they tear each other's throats out. For even in their remote corner of the country, media makes its way in, by way of the most popular communal event: a village-wide gathering predicated on hooking up a cathode ray tube TVfor the purpose of news and entertainment—if the so-so reception behaves. When reports air of the latest outbreak of sectarian violence begin to air, the women scramble to obscure the news by any means necessary and at likely personal cost to their relationships; nothing is more important than this community-threatening matter of life and death.
Part religiopolitical satire, part smalltown sitcom, with a hint of romance, Where Do We Go Now? is pleasingly populated with "characters" and light farce that occasionally breaks out into a movie musical (a lyric to cherish: "This hashish comes straight from my heart"). Labaki frames the film with a dance-inflected funeral procession of black-clad women, this visual representation of the worst-case scenario serving as an inspiration to head off senseless cultural warring at the pass. Certainly, Lebanese women aren't immune to rage borne of sectarian violence (nor does Labaki suggest as much), but the answer to the film's title might well be "Mutual respect": not only compromise and a live-and-let-live attitude to religious conflict and difference, but a recognition of the greater contributions women can make to social improvement if given their full due and their full voice.
Sony does its usual sterling A/V work with its Blu-ray release of Where Do We Go Now? The image recreates the film's natural theatrical look, preserving the detail, texture (including film grain) and color gradation of the source, with no digital interference to be spotted. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0 mix handily recreates the theatrical experience as well, with rich immersive ambience and robust music to complement the nicely articulated dialogue at the forefront.
Primary among the bonus features is a thorough screen-specific audio commentary with director Nadine Labaki and composer Khaled Mouzanar.
"An Evening with Nadine Labaki, Anne-Dominique Toussaint, and Khaled Mouzanar" (39:11, HD), moderated by Stephen Farber of Moveline, is a live Q&A tied to a screening of the film; the director/star, producer, and composer discuss all aspects of conception, production and post-production.
"The Making of Where Do We Go Now?" (18:16, HD) is a European-style EPK, comprised of raw B-roll footage (always more interesting than canned talking-head footage).
"Making the Music" (12:16, SD) showcases Mouzanar, who describes his process.
Rounding out the disc is the film's "Theatrical Trailer" (2:16, HD).
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