'Where Do We Go Now?' review: Legitimate question, stupid answer

'Where Do We Go Now?'

'Where Do We Go Now?' (May 15, 2012)

*1/2 (out of four)

Welcome to the 21st century, the mayor of a small Lebanese town tells villagers as they gather around an old TV that barely has a signal.

Obviously, these people couldn’t be farther from modernity. The women, in particular, have had it with their men bickering and fighting, frequently, a result of ongoing and often deadly tensions between Christians and Muslims. So the mayor’s wife, Yvonne (Yvonne Maalouf), Amale (director/co-writer Nadine Labaki) and other female leaders aim to calm down their guys (who are known to push a kid on crutches if necessary) by manipulating a bus of younger, fitter dancers from Eastern Europe to hang out and distract male anger into admiration.

I wouldn’t claim to know the inner-workings of these communities, but how strange that Labaki presents her male characters as rough and violent, yet completely shy and harmless when it comes to women. Not only do they barely have the confidence to look the dancers in the eye, but they do nothing to resist their wives’ or mothers’ tricks to end the conflicts. That doesn’t ring true at all, nor does alternating between the appropriately heartbroken drama of children caught in a war and the loopy comedy of women yelling “You’re the chicken!” or “You’re the smelly one!” at each other.

Everyone can agree with the desire to resort to extreme measures to solve a problem that has gone on too long. “Where Do We Go Now?,” however, aims for amusingly hypothetical but becomes offensively, naively silly.

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 7:30 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com. @mattpais

 

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