The Secret of the Grain

Section: French Shoals
Directed by: Abdellatif Kechiche

La graine et le mulet
France, 2007

Dir.: Abdellatif Kechiche
Scr.: Abdellatif Kechiche
Phot.: Lubomir Bakchev
Editor: Galia Lacroix
Cast: Habib Boufares, Hafsia Herzi, Farida Benkhetache, Abdelhamid Aktouche, Leila D’Issernio
Format: 35 mm
151 mins
Contact: Institut Français, Budapest

An idiosyncratic story about life, ambitions, frustrations, courage and indolence among North African migrant families in the south of France. A harbour in the South of France. Sete, to be precise. The heavy manual labour in and around the harbour gradually makes way for other activities. Service industries, tourism, catering. Slimane Beiji, divorced, in his sixties, and of Algerian origins, has worked for years on a shipping wharf, but has to accept redundancy. He wants to use his severance pay to convert an old fishing cutter into a North African speciality restaurant. That is more complicated than he thinks. Rym, the teenage daughter of his landlady and mistress, helps him. Kechiche unfolds Slimane's complex family affairs mainly in improvised conversations at the kitchen table of his ex-wife, Saoud. There the extended family turns up on Sundays for a delicious couscous with fish, the dish from the title.

Kechiche succeeds in turning his film into an epic in which acting, form, substance and analysis all come together at one point. The characteristics of his many characters come together to reveal a deep social analysis. With Secret Of The Grain, Kechiche makes it clear that he is the most interesting chronicler of the life of North African emigrants in Europe.

See also:
57.000 Km Between Us Before I Forget
La France Lady Chatterley
Very Well, Thank You Witnesses
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