WHERE DO WE GO NOW? (Nadine Labaki). Subtitled. 100 minutes. Opens Friday (May 25). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNN
When Nadine Labaki's Where Do We Go Now? won the People's Choice Award at last year's TIFF, it shouldn't have been that surprising. Despite dealing with a hot-button issue - the strife between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East - it's a surefire crowd-pleaser that makes politics go down easy. Labaki could concoct a Molotov cocktail that tastes like a Bellini.
The Christian and Muslim inhabitants of a Lebanese village have learned to coexist peacefully, but random acts of vandalism threaten to break their ceasefire. Before anybody can reach for a rifle, the mischievous women find ways to distract their men from fighting, whether by faking communication with the Virgin Mary or importing Ukrainian strippers to give the guys something else to get hard over. The solutions they come up with seem as far-fetched as an accord between the two religions, but that may be the point.
Labaki doesn't always have an easy time mixing laughs with tears, but it's difficult not to be charmed by her characters and purpose. Although the politics are half-cooked, this absurd comedy is a delightful tribute to the women who have to find ways to get around men and their follies.