Where Do We Go Now?: A Stunning Masterpiece

When a really close friend and talented emerging filmmaker suggested we watch Where Do We Go Now?, I was intrigued by the promise of scintillating content. And I was not disappointed. Directed by and starring Nadine Labaki, this film entirely in Arabic (with a French version and with English subtitles) was shot in 2011, and is set in a small village in Lebanon.

This film begins, as pictured above, with a group of women beating their breasts in mourning. They are mourning the loss of their husbands and sons to clashes between the two religions in their village: Islam and Christianity. The movie features strong themes of female leadership, religiously-motivated conflict, community, hope, forgiveness and love. It shows how when women lead, they lead with their head and not their hearts (contrary to popular belief), favouring the greater good over personal benefit or comfort. Mothers and sisters live their lives on tenterhooks, throwing themselves between testosterone-pumped men who are quick to jump to conclusions about their neighbour and react with violence. The women in this film showcase staggering presence of mind, grace and beauty in all its forms. They go to great lengths to keep the harmony in their village and their men alive. When heartbreak knocks on their door, they answer bravely not crumbling under pressure. They rise up to sacrifice their own personal dreams to save those around them. They conquer hate with bountiful love and understanding, and at no point do they let the bond their gender has necessitated they form come under threat. They band together, Muslim and Christian alike, and show forgiveness and humility. They are the protectors of their men, their homes and their small community. The incredible lioness-like spirit of a woman is so masterfully presented in this 102 minute film

Flipping our deeply-entrenched concept of religion on its head, this film tugs at the heart of spirituality, putting forth the notion that religion is in the heart and not based on whether we hold a cross in our hands when we pray, or whether we put our foreheads to the ground in prayer. It tries to make us see that conflict over religious beliefs is entirely ridiculous because at the end of the day, we all believe in one God.

Community is at the centre of this beautifully-crafted film with this theme echoing in the plots the women devise together. In the way they run to each other’s aid to protect their own and their fellow-women’s sons and husbands. In the way they prepare food together. In the way they work toward religious celebrations together. Even while their men fight each other, these women stick together and it is their sticking together through good and rough that leads to (SPOILER ALERT) salvation.

In its totality, it could be argued that this film challenges the importance of religion over community, ultimately unifying people through love.

While carrying conceptually-heavy material, this film is careful to lighten the mood with candid moments between the strong circle of women, musical pieces that provide gorgeous melodies and profound lyrical movement, and glimpses of hope and happiness.

This film needs to be seen to open up minds closed by conflict and the various divides infringed on us by society and based on the colours of our skin, whom we choose to love or the name of the God we pray to. A stunning masterpiece, this deserves a 5.0/5.0

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