Le graine et le mulet
France, 2007, 151 minutes
Sat, May 3 / 5:00 / PFA / SECG03P
Mon, May 5 / 8:00 / Clay / SECG05Y
Thu, May 8 / 7:15 / Kabuki / SECG08K
Fish couscous has never looked so good—nor the émigré experience so real—as in Tunisian-French director Abdellatif Kechiche’s intimate saga of an extended family living in the French seaport of Sète. Grey-haired Tunisian immigrant Slimane is let go after 35 years, some of it under the table, as a dockworker. With his severance pay he dreams of turning an old freighter into a restaurant with his ex-wife’s renowned mullet couscous as the specialty. This doesn’t sit well with his current girlfriend, who hoped he would put the money into renovating her rundown hotel. Meanwhile, the white financial officers and city bureaucrats, one of whom doesn’t know he has an illicit tie to Slimane’s family, place one hurdle after another before the taciturn old man. But the hotelkeeper’s determined daughter Rym steps up to make the project succeed for her cherished stepfather and organizes a go-for-broke dinner party to seduce potential investors and the city’s big shots. Winner of four Césars (France’s Oscars) including best picture, and winner of the 2007 FIPRESCI and Special Jury prizes at the Venice Film Festival, this is a minutely detailed, sharply observed portrait of the immigrant generation contending with its French-born offspring and the dominant culture in a time when they are no longer the freshest émigrés off the boat. Hafsia Herzi (César winner for best female newcomer) is a standout as Slimane’s girlfriend’s beautiful daughter Rym, not just for her spirited harangues and mouth-watering noshing style but for her resourcefulness when disaster strikes and desperate measures are called for.
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