×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Nut$’

Tarantino vibes permeate this amusing, at times outlandish tale of a couple of beauties getting mixed up with a deadly gambling ring.

With:
Darine Hamze, Alexandra Kahwagi, Gabriel Yammine, Hassan Mrad, Edmund Hedded, Tarek Tamim, Houssam Sabbah, Bassel Madi, Christina Sadeh, Badih Abouchacra, Paul Mattar, Badih Abou Chakra, Renee Deek, Nayla Moudabber, Issam Merhab, Abboudy Mallah.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5593008/reference

French director Henri Bargès blasts a cartoonish Tarantino vibe into Lebanon’s film scene with his enjoyably outré sophomore feature “Nut$.” Set in a privileged world of bored housewives, high-stakes gamblers, and sadistic hit men, the movie combines violence with wry humor and Spaghetti Western flourishes all meant to draw attention to its firmly planted tongue in cheek. Though cohesion is occasionally sacrificed for sardonic, self-conscious chortles, “Nut$” has moments of outrageous fun and should do well locally following a mid-January release. International play is more of a wild card, likely limited to Francophone territories, showcases, and streaming.

The influences come thick and fast in an amusing opening segment that barrels along, channeling Tarantino, Fellini, and even the “Ocean’s” franchise, among others. Lana (Darine Hamze, “Halal Love”) is introduced as Housewife and Jenny (Alexandra Kahwagi, “Very Big Shot”) as Love Seeker, yet the more accurate moniker for both would be Thrill Seekers. Exuding a fearless swagger that comes from a mixture of inner sangfroid and outer beauty, these best friends enjoy shaking up their bourgeois lives. Then they meet Qassem (Gabriel Yammine), the boss of a gambling racket, and Lana wants in on the game.

While Lana plays the tables in various private establishments and rakes in the dough, Jenny flirts with Wael (Edmund Hedded), Qassem’s amoral hitman. Everything is going swimmingly for the two women until Lana loses big-time against sleazy Jaba (Tarek Tamim), and she has to come up with the money to pay back Qassem’s bet on her. From here all semblance of narrative control pretty much veers off the tracks as Bargès climaxes with a “Once Upon a Time in the Middle East” finale featuring a hilariously scabrous desert opening.

Popular on Variety

Twenty-two years have passed since Bargès’ last film, “Half Spirit: Voice of the Spider,” and his subsequent career in commercials has honed an eye for dramatic slickness rather than plot cogency, but he tackles “Nut$” with such glee that the flaws tend to take a backseat to the overall sense of daring. Like a Christmas tree overloaded with baubles, lots of short scenes made with bold strokes adorn the main plot: Qassem’s vixenish second wife Samara (Christina Sadeh) instantly ends one of his tirades by disrobing; older women discuss the value of Ethiopian maids over Filipina housekeepers.

They all add more color than depth, and the result is vaguely derivative and faintly ridiculous, yet the film’s no-holds-barred bravura also feels refreshing in a Lebanese film. While “Nut$” lacks the realism and punch of “Very Big Shot,” it does represent an expansion on the usual Levantine feature sent for festival consideration. That doesn’t mean it deserves an affirmative-action green light abroad just because it’s different (although the more diverse an industry, the healthier it is); the film remains enjoyable on its own, notwithstanding plagiaristic elements. Delicious performances by Hamze and Kahwagi, obviously relishing the joy of playing such powerful women, add to the overall fun.

Cinematographer Pascal Ridao meets Bargès’ edgy requirements with a delirious blend of action sequences, stylized set pieces, and drone shots over Beirut. Music helps keep things pumping, from Walid Sarrouh’s original background compositions to leading indie band Mashrou Leila’s noticeable contribution.

Film Review: 'Nut$'

Reviewed at Dubai Film Festival (Arabian Nights), Dec. 12, 2016. Running time: 105 MIN.

Production: (Lebanon) A Go Potato Pictures presentation of a Laser Films production. (International sales: Shoreline Entertainment, Los Angeles.) Producers: Tarek-Gabriel Sikias, Etienne Debbane, Anthony Maalouf, Michel Massoud, Yordan Obegi, Pierre Sahyoun. Co-producers: Chakib Chehab, Joanne Chehab, Guillaume Marien, Tania Sikias, Carl Tohme, Samer Khalil Walid. Executive producer: Tarek-Gabriel Sikias.

Crew: Director: Henri Bargès. Screenplay: Tania Sikias. Camera (color, widescreen): Pascal Ridao. Editors: Bargès, Maria Zaka.

With: Darine Hamze, Alexandra Kahwagi, Gabriel Yammine, Hassan Mrad, Edmund Hedded, Tarek Tamim, Houssam Sabbah, Bassel Madi, Christina Sadeh, Badih Abouchacra, Paul Mattar, Badih Abou Chakra, Renee Deek, Nayla Moudabber, Issam Merhab, Abboudy Mallah.

More Film

  • Morgan Freeman Lori McCreary Gary Lucchesi

    Film News Roundup: Morgan Freeman's Revelations Teams With Gary Lucchesi for Production Venture

    In today’s film news roundup, Morgan Freeman, Lori McCreary and Gary Lucchesi are teaming up; Zolee Griggs, Sara Rue and Ed Quinn are cast; and “Clementine” finds a home. JOINT VENTURE Morgan Freeman and Lori McCreary’s Revelations Entertainment is teaming with former Lakeshore Entertainment president Gary Lucchesi for a joint production venture. Popular on Variety [...]

  • 'When Lambs Become Lions' Review: A

    Film Review: 'When Lambs Become Lions'

    “For us, ivory is worthless unless it is on our elephants,” says Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta in a televised statement, shortly before several vast hauls of severed elephant tusks — ornately piled like sacred shrines — is ceremoniously set ablaze. It’s a confiscated collection that, Kenyatta tells his audience, is worth $150 million, literally going [...]

  • Shannon Hoon

    Live Nation Productions Boards Danny Clinch-Helmed Blind Melon Doc 'All I Can Say'

    Live Nation Productions and Double E Entertainment have signed on as executive producers of “All I Can Say,” the documentary film featuring footage shot entirely by the late Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon. The film’s title is taken from the opening lines of Blind Melon’s instantly recognizable 1993 smash, “No Rain.” Culled from Hoon’s archives, the [...]

  • Tom Hanks stars as Mister Rogers

    How Mr. Rogers Influenced the Pacing of 'A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood'

    Fred Rogers was an icon to many. Everyone who met him and knew him says, “He really was like that.” He spoke in a soft voice and he was kind. He believed in doing good to others. He spoke to children in “Mister Rogers Neighborhood” in a soft voice, helping them to process complicated emotions [...]

  • Dowdle Brothers

    The Dowdle Brothers Tackle New 'Friday Night Lights' Movie (EXCLUSIVE)

    John Erick and Drew Dowdle, aka the Dowdle brothers, have boarded Universal Pictures’ reimagining of “Friday Night Lights.” Both will do a polish on the script, with John Erick directing and Drew exec producing. Sources tell Variety that the movie is not a sequel to Universal’s 2004 film starring Billy Bob Thornton, nor is it [...]

  • Roman Polanski's Accuser Reached Out to

    Roman Polanski's New Accuser Reached Out to L.A. Prosecutors in Early 2017

    Valentine Monnier, the former actor who recently went public with her accusation that Roman Polanski raped her 44 years ago, sent an anonymous letter to L.A. prosecutors in early 2017 detailing those allegations, sources tell Variety. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office has confirmed that it received such a letter in February 2017 and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content