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  • Film
  • Drama
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This ghostly, semi-improvised guided tour through the shell-damaged streets of Beirut and the countryside of southern Lebanon soon after the bombings of summer 2006 offers a candid précis on the human cost of war. It also weighs up the relative merits of documentary and fiction filmmaking within such a sensitive context.

Playing herself, Catherine Deneuve is the guest of honour at a gala dinner in Beirut, but first she asks if she can be driven around the area to witness the devastation firsthand. She strikes up a fond rapport with French-speaking Lebanese actor Rabih Mroué who is her chauffeur as they travel through the rubble.

Husband-and-wife team Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige capture their meandering conversations but also ensure the wider tragedy is present, whether in glassy shots of the sprawling wreckage or as reflections in the car windows. They never take full dramatic advantage of the situation (as Philippe Aractingi did in 2007 with ‘Under the Bombs’), and there’s no denying that this is a single-note film, but it’s a note of considerable emotional clout.

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday September 18 2009
Duration: 75 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Khalil Joreige, Joana Hadjithomas
Screenwriter: Khalil Joreige
Cast: Rabih Mroue
Catherine Deneuve
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Sarah

Overall, very dull. Interesting shots of the scenery but hardly any dialogue and endless shots of Catherine fast asleep in the passenger seat. Normally I love this genre, but this film is worth skipping.