Review for Couscous
Much like the food of its title, Couscous is a film you will either love or hate. This is a very simple film about a man, Silmane, who having being laid off from the shipyard decides to open up a couscous restaurant. To do this he needs to help of everyone, extended family, ex-wife, daughter, mistress... Everyone. This then leads to many issues about money, time, family and stress as everyone tries to get ready for the opening night.
What follows is a film is awash with glorious scenery, great score and some of the best looking food I have seen outside of an M&S advert. Many people when commenting on this movie focus a little too much on the 'delicious' food, but if I wanted to see that I would go watch the Food Channel. The acting throughout is perfect with Habib Boufares wonderful in his role as Slimane and he is surrounded by many other perfectly cast actors who help the film move along.
Overall, the plot of the film feels very much like an episode of a Gordon Ramsey show. There are lots of shots of gorgeous food, lots of mishaps and lots of ups and downs. With this said, my only issue with this film is its length. At over two and a half hours this is far too long to be spent on this kind of story. This is the kind of story that could be told in maybe 90 minutes at the most, but instead the film drags along and in a way it drags my enjoyment of the film down with it. This is a shame as I generally did enjoy it, it was just a chore to actually sit through.
Director/Writer Abdellatif Kechiche, who has gone on to be world famous for Blue is the Warmest Colour knows how to film something beautifully. However, much like that film, Couscous suffers from its length and maybe next time he should restrict himself to two hours and see what he can do. Though I do have to admit the final belly dance scene is the sexiest dance outside of Salma Hayek's in From Dusk Til Dawn and well worth the wait. Probably one of the few scenes that could have been longer.
Almost to satisfy that, one featurette Sueur is over forty minutes of that dance and though it could be said to be excessive (and it is), it is enjoyable how they mix singing and dancing together to give it that real party atmosphere. Other extras include a Trailer, interviews with stars Hafsia Herzi, Bouraouia Marzouk and with Kechiche. These interviews are fine and at least show the passion behind the project the three may have been better telling these stories as part of a commentary which may have been interesting (Though I understand if the language barrier was the reason for this). Another featurette The Musicians is almost a mix of a Q&A and a jam session with these musicians and very nice to see.
Couscous is a wonderful looking film with some great acting, it is just a shame that it feels so long. If an hour had been cut out it may have been more satisfying then the bloated aftertaste I was left with. Still enjoyable though, what's for pudding?