Today I watched what is easily my favorite film of 2008, so far. (Now, I know I haven't watched that many 2008 films as of yet, but I plan to remedy that—at least slightly—next week when I don't have to teach class every single day.) At any rate, Caramel, Nadine Labaki's 90-minute romantic comedy is wonderful.
It's a chick-flick, no question about it. Caramel follows the lives of six women in Beirut whose lives intertwine because of a beauty shop that is central to their lives. It's about what are ostensibly women's issues—aging, infidelity, love, attraction, loneliness—but I found it incredibly moving. I also found it sweet and sour, hopeful on occasion, circumspect about its hope, and open-ended (just like life).
There is a little bit of a lesbian love story in Caramel, too, and it made me really, really happy. It's not overt at all, and in fact it is never mentioned explicitly, but I picked up on it immediately, and I imagine most queer people would have the same experience.
Overall, this is a smart, moving movie about Lebanese women, their lives, loves, traumas and friendships. It's only about their men tangentially, except for a single phone call scene, which you will fall in love with immediately when you see it.
This is a renter. Check it out.