The Secret of the Grain (Abdellatif Kechiche – 2007) B+

To say Sleiman is subtle, quiet and understated is and understatement. I do not think he smiled or raised his voice in the entire movie. He has been working in shipyards in southern France for the last 30 years, has just been laid off. He lives in a room over a cafe and he sleeps with his landlady. He is divorced, still goes to his ex wife’s home for Sunday family gatherings over fish couscous. She makes the best one apparently. It’s not a movie about a plot this one. It’s about people, their faults and struggles and wants. It’s about family, grown up kids and their problems. Sleiman decides to renovate an old abandoned ship and turn it to a fish couscous restaurant. He recruits his two sons, his landlady’s daughter (great performance by this actress – Hafsia Herzi) and his ex-wife as a cook. It’s tragic and funny how many different agencies and officials he has to go to in order to get a loan, a license to operate, a location to dock his restaurant. The final chapter of the film is so well executed but so depressing as we realize that hard work and planning sometimes are just not enough.

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