french films > Couscous (La Graine et le Mulet)

Couscous (La Graine et le Mulet)

Couscous (La Graine et le Mulet)

Review score: * * * * *

cast: Habib Boufares, Hafsia Herzi, Faridah Benkhetache

year: 2007

colour: yes

certificate: PG

director: Abdel Kechiche

runtime: 2

La Graine et Le Mulet - which loosely means fish couscous - has been hailed as a social and political masterpiece. Its makers hope it will force an inward looking French establishment to open up to the creative talent of its second generation immigrants. After years of the world's film festivals snubbing French offerings as pretentious and boring, the couscous saga won a standing ovation at the Venice film festival and took home three prizes. This week, it opened to ovations in France and won the Louis Delluc prize for film of the year. Its director, Abdellatif Kechiche, who grew up on a council estate in Nice with his builder father and Tunisian family, has been compared to Truffaut and the Italian neo-realists. "He's the major auteur that France has been waiting for," announced the culture bible Les Inrockuptibles. The film, which in Britain has been launched under the name of Couscous was initiallly going to be called The Secret of the Dream. It tells the story of 61-year-old Slimane, a boat-builder in the southern French port of Sète, who involves his vast extended family in an epic project to launch a couscous restaurant. Its often comic, lengthy scenes in French Mediterranean council blocks are reminiscent of British kitchen sink dramas. The actors are mostly amateurs.


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