×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Falafel

The misadventures of a young man on his way to a party offer an easy intro to new Lebanese cinema in "Falafel," chronicling the country's post-civil war emptiness with a light touch as it zaps between playful clowning and edge-of-violence darkness.

With:
Toufic - Elie Mitri Yasmin - Gabrielle Bou Rached Abboudi - Issam Boukhaled

The misadventures of a young man on his way to a party offer an easy intro to new Lebanese cinema in “Falafel,” chronicling the country’s post-civil war emptiness with a light touch as it zaps between playful clowning and edge-of-violence darkness. Michel Kammoun’s first feature is loosely structured as an all-in-a-night “After Hours,” permeated by a feeling of danger and frustration. Sporting a winning protag and a catchy title, this desirable festival entry (it won best film laurels at Namur) could drive into selected offshore niches with astute handling.

Cool-looking, warm-hearted Toufic, aka Tou (Elie Mitri), is a regular guy who adores his kid brother and whose main objective is to meet a certain Yasmin (Gabrielle Bou Rached) at a party that night. But as a philosophical falafel maker cryptically advises, he should aspire to be like the runaway falafel that defies the laws of gravity and jumps out of the frying pan.

When a high-handed BMW owner knocks him down in a parking lot squabble, the humiliation pushes him to leave the safe haven of his partying friends and walk on the dark side.

Rather than simply switching gears to drama, Kammoun’s script gives viewers a ride uphill and down, alternating between Tou’s vengeful search for his nemesis and his concerned pals’ comic search for Tou. The outcome remains up in the air until the unexpected ending strikes a delightfully tender note.

Somewhat hidden beneath the entertaining action is the point that 16 years after the civil war, life in Lebanon has never normalized. Violence seems to be lying in wait for the innocent: Tou witnesses a roadside kidnapping, escapes from the police, buys a gun from a hysterical arms dealer, meets a series of half-mad characters, and so on. Though shot before the recent Israeli conflict, the film seems to hold a prescient warning of conflict lurking around every corner.

Boasting the good looks and good manners that will entrance young femme audiences, Mitri gives the action a strong masculine center. As his loyal but nerdish friend Abboudi, Issam Boukhaled stands out in an army of sharply drawn supporting characters.

Tech work swings in cinematographer Muriel Aboulrouss’ tactile re-creation of nighttime Beirut, where you can almost smell the falafels frying in neon-lit stands. Toufic Farroukh’s rocking original soundtrack further adds to the contemporary Mideast atmosphere.

Falafel

Lebanon

Production: A Roy Films production in association with Cine Sud Promotion, the Postoffice. Produced by Michel Kammoun. Co-producer, Thierry Lenouvel. Directed, written by Michel Kammoun.

Crew: Camera (color), Muriel Aboulrouss; editor, Gladys Joujou; music, Toufic Farroukh; production designer, Pamela Ghanimeh; costume designer, Maya Harb; sound (Dolby Digital), Chady Roukoz. Reviewed at Dubai Film Festival (competing), Dec. 14, 2006. (Also in Namur Film Festival.) Running time: 79 MIN.

With: Toufic - Elie Mitri Yasmin - Gabrielle Bou Rached Abboudi - Issam BoukhaledWith: Michel El Hourany, Hiam Abou Chedid, Rafic Ali Ahmad, Roger Assaf, Aouni Kawas. (Arabic dialogue)

More Film

  • Critics Week

    Cannes Critics’ Week Unveils Its Lineup

    Lorcan Finnegan’s science-fiction thriller “Vivarium” with Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots, Jérémy Clapin’s fantasy-filled animated feature “I Lost My Body,” and Hlynur Pálmason’s Icelandic drama “A White, White Day” are among the 11 films set to compete at Critics’ Week, the section dedicated to first and second films that runs parallel with the Cannes Film [...]

  • China Box Office: 'Wonder Park' Fails

    China Box Office: 'Wonder Park' Fails to Impress While 'P Storm' Rages On

    Even on one of the quietest weekends of the year, new U.S. animated release “Wonder Park” failed to inspire Chinese audiences as much as Hong Kong and Indian movies already in their third weekend in theaters. Starring the voice talents of Matthew Broderick, Jennifer Garner, Mila Kunis, and Ken Jeong, among many others, the film [...]

  • David Picker dead

    David Picker, Studio Chief Who Acquired James Bond Novels for UA, Dies at 87

    David Picker, who headed United Artists, Paramount and Columbia’s motion picture divisions and was known for forging relationships with groundbreaking filmmakers and material, died Saturday in New York. He was 87 and had been suffering from colon cancer. MGM tweeted, “We are saddened to hear that a member of the United Artists family has passed [...]

  • Abigail Disney on Bob Iger

    Abigail Disney Calls Bob Iger's $65 Million Compensation 'Insane'

    Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger’s total compensation for Disney’s fiscal 2018 was a whopping $65.6 million. Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of Disney co-founder Roy Disney, calls that sum “insane.”  While speaking at the Fast Company Impact Council, the filmmaker and philanthropist insisted that this level of corporate payout has a “corrosive effect on society.” Disney took [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Tops International

    'Curse of La Llorona' Tops International Box Office With $30 Million

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” led the way at the international box office, summoning $30 million when it opened in 71 foreign markets. The supernatural thriller collected $26.5 million in North America for a global start of $56.5 million. “La Llorona,” based on the Mexican folklore about the Weeping Woman, [...]

  • Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona'

    Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona' Wins Worst Easter Weekend in Over a Decade

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” ascended to the top of domestic box office charts, conjuring $26.5 million when it opened in 3,372 North American theaters. “La Llorona” is the latest horror movie to outperform expectations, further cementing the genre as one of the most reliable box office draws. Even so, [...]

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content