Few things could seem so incongruous as writer/director/star Nadine Labaki’s 2008 feature debut Caramel, not because of its relatively standard plot surrounding a group of women who patronize a beauty parlor, but because this light romantic dramedy is set in previously war-torn Beirut. Labaki avoids dealing with the religious and political turmoil that engulfed much of Lebanon immediately prior to her film’s production, choosing to present the capital city as worldly, its residents as being just like everyone else, and in so doing, her gentle approach to the comedy and drama of the feminine experience transcends the conflict on her doorstep. Beirut isn’t quite as unstable as it was 10 years ago, but it’s never a bad time to consider the lives of normal people living through difficult times, especially with a movie this sweet.

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