Where Do We Go Now? (Et maintenant, on va où) is a movie about a little village in Lebanon, trying to maintain a semblance of harmony in the face of sectarian conflicts between the Christians and the Muslims.
The movie opens with a group of women from the village, walking to the local cemetery to tend to their loved ones’ tombs, the Christians to the left and the Muslims to the right. All of the women have lost somebody – sons, husbands, and presumably brothers and other male relatives. When the large wooden cross in the church is accidentally broken, the Christians assume that the Muslims have done so – which continue to a series of unexplained tit-for-tats: goats and chicken wandering into the mosque, the holy water in the stoup replaced by chicken blood, and shoes stolen from outside of the mosque. The women try cunning ways to curb the violence, from exotic dancers to drug-infused cakes and cookies – to hilarious results.
Where Do We Go Now? covers a sensitive topic about religious clashes – and among the comical reliefs lies the heart of the story: of grieving women, tired of burying their men, just because they cannot tolerate different faiths. Nadine Labaki, the director successfully weaves through harrowing scenes of grief and tension with heartwarming portrayal of fragile tolerance. There is a scene that stays with me after I left the theatre – of Takla, a grieving mum, cradling her dead son – in the verge of losing her faith after losing most of all the men in the family.
Labaki portrays the village men as simple creatures who are driven by blind emotions and animal desires, and the women as the thinking and intelligent ones. Maybe so – who knows. Labaki also only presents religious intolerance in the simplest manner and the solutions presented in the movie will certainly not work in real life. However that is beside the point. The story shows how futile and tiresome it is to kill your own brothers or sisters, just because they choose to worship differently.