At the outset of the new film"Where Do We Go Now?"the usual constant fighting between Muslim and Christian men in a remote Lebanese village has reached a fragile peace aided by the arrival of a television set. When a series of events threatens this uneasy accord, the women of the town must band together to bring things back to an even keel with a plan that comes to involve Eastern European belly dancers and baked goods laced with hashish.
Directed, co-written by and starring Nadine Labaki, the film aims to be a gentle comedy (there are even some songs approaching musical numbers) with serious undercurrents. It stumbles most when reaching for its bigger themes.
Many of the villagers are played by nonactors, and while there is a distinctive authenticity to the weathered looks of their faces, their limited abilities in conveying shades of emotion really hampers the film. Too many times the performers — male and female — are at the point of hysterics in the most nails-on-a-chalkboard way.
In the end, "Where Do We Go Now?" has little to say about human conflict beyond the obvious.
"Where Do We Go Now?" MPAA rating: PG-13 for thematic drug material, some sensuality and violent images; in Arabic, Russian and English, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes. At the Landmark, West Los Angeles.