Couscous

four stars out of five This is quite a subtle & lovely film that’s made me think about it a lot more in the 24 hours since I first watched it. It’s really quite delicate & nuanced, exploring the family relationships and friendships of North African immigrants to southern France.


The patriarch, Slimane, is made redundant from his dockyard job and decides to invest his redundancy money in trying to create a restaurant on an old boat. He’s relying on his ex-wife’s fantastic cooking and on calling in favours from his (sometimes pretty flaky) family to make it work. The person who tries hardest to help him realise his dream is his current lover’s daughter, Rym.

For a while, it looks as though he might pull off the audacious move, but one by one, his dreams begin to unravel. The film leaves you in the middle of a catalogue of events that go horribly wrong and you are left to draw your own grim conclusions about where this will lead.

What really stuck with me afterwards was both the combination of circumstances that lead to the bleak ending of the film and how they link very closely to the tight-knit family traditions and structure. There is a profound social commentary being made and racism is only briefly touched on in the scenes where Slimane and Rym are tussling with French bureaucracy, but nothing feels heavy-handed or didactic. Slow-cooking at its best.

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