Even in peacetime, there’s little stability to be had for the Beirut-dwelling protags in “Around the Pink House,” a pleasant ensemble seriocomedy that makes its points a tad too gently for a lasting impression. Debut feature for Lebanese-born writer-helmers Khalil Joreige and Joana Hadjithomas is solid fest fare with potential for international tube exposure.
Having fled their rural villages 11 years ago, the Adaimi and Nawfal families settled in “the pink house,” an abandoned mansion. But now that war is over and the economy is booming, the government wants to raze it and build a shopping center. Reactions among inhabitants (who have no legal claim on digs) become bitterly, albeit comically, divided — boycotting one another’s businesses as they debate progress vs. preservation, token resettlement cash vs. public protest. Large cast limns colorful characters in the community of refugees, including patriarchs, TV reporters, a would-be militant skinhead and two shy lovers. Pic expertly sustains myriad narrative strands through amusing waves of gossip, infighting and sabotage. But individual parts are more effective than the whole; low-key approach leaves windup with insufficient punch. Still, well-tuned pacing, perfs and tech package hold the attention.