Where Do We Go Now? 2011 ★★★

Nadine Labaki’s curious little fable plays like a feature-length interpretation of Julia Ward Howe’s original Mother’s Day proclamation. In a small Lebanese village, a fragile truce between Christians and Muslims appears on the verge of shattering at the slightest provocation, leading the town’s women to extreme measures to keep the peace—whether that means faking a miracle, or hiring a troupe of Ukrainian exotic dancers to keep the men preoccupied. The narrative forever teeters on the precipice of being repetitive in its cycle of escalation and distraction, and does trot out a few obvious “can’t we all just get along” speeches. Yet Labaki (who also plays the local café owner) seasons her tale with irresistible surreal charm—including a march of mourners that turns into elaborate choreography, and the women breaking into song as they hatch their latest scheme—while providing enough purely funny situations to lighten the tone. You might have a sense for where it’s heading from the outset, but like that opening funereal procession, it hardly heads there in a simple, straight line.

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