If slow cooking has a cinematic equivalent, it's 'Couscous'. A multi-award-winning family drama (including Best Film, Director and Writer at the French Oscars, the Césars), Abdel Kechiche's film isn't in a rush to get anywhere but feels all the more realistic for it.

Slimane (Boufares) has just lost his job as a shipyard worker in the French port of Sète. Over 60, divorced and living in a room above his girlfriend's restaurant, Slimane feels he has no legacy for his grown-up family and that his time has grown very short. He decides to use his redundancy money to turn an old ship into a restaurant, and get help from his extended family to do it. But can one man overcome French bureaucracy and keep his extended clan in line?

Yet another film which makes you wish you could watch French cinema every day of the week, 'Couscous' says that Kechiche is a director who could build up a superb legacy. Dedicated to his father, a dockworker himself, there isn't one scene here which doesn't feel completely authentic - you'll feel you're a guest of this family.

Kechiche has assembled a brilliant cast and every one of them plays their role as if they've lived it all their life. There are low-key scenes and explosives ones and no-one overacts in either. Saying little, Boufares channels a massive amount of character through his eyes, the weariness of an emigrant generation translated in his every move.

As a study of people who have come to call another country their 'home', 'Couscous' provides much food for thought: the tensions between generations, the expectations of the old and the young, the mixing of cultures and the distance between them.

Even without answers, you're wiser at the end.


Harry Guerin