Couscous (15)

Film

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
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Time Out says

Mon Oct 22 2007

Set in the French port of Sète, director Abdel Kechiche’s ‘Couscous’ is a rich and quietly surprising portrait of that town’s French-Tunisian community. Basically an ensemble piece, it pokes into the lives of the two extended families belonging to a separated, 60-year-old immigrant shipworker, Slimane (Habib Boufares). When unemployment hits, it is the grain and red mullet dish his estranged wife so lovingly prepares which he hopes may prove the central selling point of a new restaurant he plans to open on a reconditioned quayside barge.

The special quality of ‘Couscous’ doesn’t lie in its story – it’s the kind of film where you wish for less story rather than more – but in how well it manages to immerse us in the lives of this relatively isolated microcosm. It provides a series of scenes that genuinely sparkle with life and spontaneity – notably a delightful, talky family lunch presided over by Slimane’s wife, where cinematographer Lubomir Bakchev’s mainly hand-held camera fast pans from close-up to close-up, beautifully capturing emotions  on the wing.

The performances, too, developed in extensive  workshops, are superb, with two standouts. The first is Boufares, who is particularly touching and impressive as a prideful man coping in his own way with dislocation, disappointment and redundancy. The other is Hafsia Herzi as his ‘adopted’ daughter, whose bolder, more street-wise manner belies an equal, if different, second-generation immigrant’s vulnerability to the problems of cultural assimilation.

Finally, Kechiche is very successful at placing a gnawing tension at the heart of his film – not least the discomforting doubt over whether this reticent, flawed but deeply sympathetic old guy will succeed – even if he proves less adept at resolving it. The ending – to this writer’s mind – is dramatically and artistically misjudged, but, nevertheless, it remains a remarkable and thought-provoking work.
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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Jun 20, 2008

Duration:

151 mins

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

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  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|20
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Kelly

dont normally watch this type of film but was up late as dogs were upset by storm missed the start got quite engrossed but fell asleep so didnt see any of the progress on the ship woke up as they are having the opening night i was really dissapointed with the ending or lack of it needed a conclusion

Mary Fletcher

A marvellously engrossing film. The family relationships are revealed bit by bit. The acting is very naturalistic. I personally hate to see people talk with food in their mouths, but I still loved this film. Unfortunately our recorder lost the last ten mins .I hope it ended optimistically?

Mary Fletcher

A marvellously engrossing film. The family relationships are revealed bit by bit. The acting is very naturalistic. I personally hate to see people talk with food in their mouths, but I still loved this film. Unfortunately our recorder lost the last ten mins .I hope it ended optimistically?

KateR

Superb. Just watched it on DVD .. the tension built and built - Totally absorbing.

Chris

Superb film. Watched it on DVD last night and woke up still thinking about its many threads. Obviously the main themes of sexism, immigrant communities, family etc - but also politics of business, work, growing old, our changing society... brilliant. And not too long at all - it swept me in entirely and could easily have continued. I'd read some of the reviews on here before seeing it and can't understand at all how some of you feel that an hour (or even 90 mins) could have been cut?!

Chris

Superb film. Watched it on DVD last night and woke up still thinking about its many threads. Obviously the main themes of sexism, immigrant communities, family etc - but also politics of business, work, growing old, our changing society... brilliant. And not too long at all - it swept me in entirely and could easily have continued. I'd read some of the reviews on here before seeing it and can't understand at all how some of you feel that an hour (or even 90 mins) could have been cut?!

William T

A brilliant, beautiful film. Full of the real pain and passion of life. There's not enough films like this.

William T

A brilliant, beautiful film. Full of the real pain and passion of life. There's not enough films like this.

Sinead

I loved this movie. Hollywood should be embarrassed by the crap they regularly dish out. This movie made me think and feel. I got so involved with the family and really felt the pain in the last 30 mins. I wanted to slap that petulant wife-cheating, dissapointment of a son. Did Slimane die?

Sinead

I loved this movie. Hollywood should be embarrassed by the crap they regularly dish out. This movie made me think and feel. I got so involved with the family and really felt the pain in the last 30 mins. I wanted to slap that petulant wife-cheating, dissapointment of a son. Did Slimane die?

kittykate63

when i took this film out of my local library the blurb sid, " the most mouthwatering scenes of food and feasting ever commiitd to celluloid." so i was looking forwardto sumptious banquest and a real love of food and its life affirming properties coming over through the family feats. As always thee was a big differece betwee the write up and the actual film, wat I saw instead was a familty meal, in a boring bedsitting room, with cold, wet roasted pepers limpin over plates and peoples manners progressivley getting worse, Not only was fo seen all over their mouths and chins but you saw the red, squashy couscous embedded in someones teeth as they opened their mouth wide. lots of talking and eating at the same time and food spitting every where. the film should have been called cousous on your face and falling don a babies bib. unfortunately this film didnt engage me at all and within the first half hour I was bored and not at all interested in any of the characters lives, if the main character had died of a heart attack with his face flpped into a plate of couscous it wouldnt have stirred me at all as the main characters arent likable in anyway and the constant bicker/ banter is boring, if i want to hear someone complaining about difficult potty training or low paid work i would go down to my local pub and listen to the neighbours. What a disappointment to buy a film to be transported to another place, another culture which is supposed to centre around food only to fce a lot of talk about potty training, and watching people shovel food down as if their mouth was a coal furnace on the titanic..

Brian Damage

Possibly the worst film I have ever seen. Even if it hadn't been an hour too long it would still have been excruciatingly boring and unpleasant. A mean and pointless little film with no redeeming features whatsoever. Rubbish, avoid like the plague.

Feduppp

Can't remember the last time I walked out of a film early, but this film made the pacing of "The Weeping Camel" and "Bombon El Perro" seem like MTV music videos in comparison.

enat

beautiful, life loving film, loved the fact that it was long and uncut with a chance to let the actors get carried away in natural and genuine acting. didnt want it to end. was it based on a true story? otherwise a happy ending would be preferable.

enat

beautiful, life loving film, loved the fact that it was long and uncut with a chance to let the actors get carried away in natural and genuine acting. didnt want it to end. was it based on a true story? otherwise a happy ending would be preferable.

katkin

This film could have been a masterpiece if it had been an hour shorter. As it was it came across as a boring, overlong vehicle for the director's ego.

Eli

Two different societies trying to coexist while sharing common human short comings. The proud and stubborn father will not see his dream come true.He survived incredible difficulties to open his restaurant, but the next generation's behavior will defeat him. we want to believe that as he has already inspired the 2 families to cooperate, they will not need him to seize the new prospect in life he granted them.Their future success is plausible even though the ending does not spell it out. The acting was superb.

john

interesting view of immigrant community, found ending was dragged out too much and some of couscous was over cooked..thought the french were made to look negative, are they really like that?

Phil

A very French film that's not too far off Rohmer, I thought; a humane film about some infuriating people.