3 Best Movies to Watch From Les Films des Tournelles

Staff & contributors
Capernaum is both the highest-grossing Middle Eastern movie of all time and the highest-grossing movie in Arabic of all time. Lebanese director Nadine Labaki was the first female Arab director to be nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. Capernaum is thus duly considered a masterpiece, as it follows an angry 12-year-old kid in Lebanon, who leaves his negligent parents and tries to make it in the streets on his own. It's a tale of grinding poverty as experienced by a boy with a good heart, who meets many kindly people on the way as well as sinister characters. An acting tour de force by the fierce child actors, especially Zain Al Rafeea, Capernaum is harrowing, emotional, and, maybe, a touch melodramatic. However, it doesn't compromise when asking some hard questions about parental failure and love, putting them into the context of the bigger regional picture. It can be a tough watch, but the furious acting and pitch-black humor, ultimately, make this an uplifting movie, likely to stir up some debate.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Alaa Chouchnieh, Boluwatife Treasure Bankole, Cedra Izzam, Elias Khoury, Fadi Kamel Yousef, Farah Hasno, Joseph Jimbazian, Kawsar Al Haddad, Nadine Labaki, Yordanos Shifera, Yordanos Shiferaw, Zain Al Rafeea

Director: Nadine Labaki

Rating: R

Witty, unexpected, and thrilling, The Innocent pulls off an excellent European heist film with modern sensibilities and its stylistic mix of genres. All at once, the film is a crime film, as well as a family farce, but also a screwball romantic comedy. The genres line up with the premise perfectly, but there’s something intriguing about the way director Louis Garrel uses each genre’s tropes. Abel’s clumsy spying over his mom’s ex-convict husband and drama pupil Michel is framed through noir techniques, while his friend Clémence gleefully interrupts his efforts with witty repartee. Abel’s suspicion of Michel’s schemes ironically leads to one of his own. And when his mom’s expressive acting techniques are used in that scheme, Abel expects fake emotions, only to reveal his true feelings. With each new twist, The Innocent plays with genre expectations for unexpected but delightful results.

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama, Romance

Actor: Anouk Grinberg, Laëtitia Clément, Louis Garrel, Manda Touré, Noémie Merlant, Roschdy Zem

Director: Louis Garrel

Charming and heartfelt, Caramel captures the spirit and beauty of Beirut and its diverse and complex society. The story follows a group of women who work at a beauty salon as they navigate their relationships, dreams, and struggles in a changing and often restrictive environment. The film's lush and colorful visuals, rich cultural references, and strong performances create a warm and intimate atmosphere that invites the audience to connect with the characters' joys and sorrows. Although the ending feels listless, it is a delightful and empowering celebration of women's friendship and resilience.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Adel Karam, Aziza Semaan, Nadine Labaki, Sihame Haddad, Yasmine Al Massri

Director: Nadine Labaki