La Graine et le Mulet (The Secret of the Grain) (Couscous)
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La Graine et le Mulet (The Secret of the Grain) (Couscous)
Though it is seldom discussed (or acknowledged) in the West, modern-day France incorporates a substantial number of immigrant communities, with many indigenes from North Africa populating the bucolic regions of southern Gaul. Abdel Kechiche's La Graine et le Mulet hones in on one such community, located on the ocean, which exudes a laid-back, unforced rhythm and a slower pace of life for all of its residents. For many years, one such occupant, sexagenarian Slimane Beiji (Habib Boufares), has nurtured a single lifelong dream: to open up his own couscous and fish restaurant in the community.… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Never sagging, it unfolds over 2 1/2 hours. Nothing is overexplained. Indeed, it takes us time to suss out Slimane's various familial relationships."
‑ Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post
"The Secret of the Grain takes one man, his children, their spouses and babies, his ex-wife, his girlfriend, her daughter, and his friends and turns it all into a masterpiece about the strange power of food -- to heal, unite, exasperate."
‑ Wesley Morris, Boston Globe
"Kechiche may subscribe to Renoir's "Everyone has his reasons," but here he shoots the action with a nervous tension that's more evocative of Pialat."
‑ Elisabeth Lequeret, Film Comment Magazine
"Many great suspense sequences have been built around props: a bomb under the table, explosives in the back of the truck, a nuclear launch code. And now couscous."
‑ Christopher Long, Movie Metropolis
"A dark and hilarious parable of human absurdity."
‑ Peter Keough, Boston Phoenix
"Time stretches out to the limits of endurance, Slimane's and ours, and there are moments toward the conclusion of this picture when you will want to scream and throw things at the screen, but it's mesmerizing. When it does end, suddenly, it feels a little"
‑ Jonathan F. Richards,
"Rather than observing this family, we feel we are part of it, and that draws us in as nothing else can."
‑ Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
"A beautifully painted portrait of everyday Arab immigrant life in France among a large dysfunctional family."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"When the film, as it must, comes to an end after two and a half hours, you won't be ready; the bond made to this family makes its sudden absence feel downright brutal. [Blu-ray]"
‑ Peter Canavese, Groucho Reviews
"Despite some strong performances from the mostly amateur cast, as well as some intriguing insights into family dysfunctions and racial prejudice, the movie still comes across as being self-indulgent and at least a little disappointing."
‑ Jeff Vice, Deseret News, Salt Lake City
"A ponderous tragedy about put-upon manhood? A verite snoop into cultures that are sexually mingled but publicly uneasy? A pill to be swallowed in the name of serious filmgoing? Maybe all of these."
‑ Dan Zak, Washington Post
"The French-Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche is that rare thing at the movies these days: an intelligent humanist."
‑ Scott Foundas, L.A. Weekly
"... a magnificent journey through culture and family and community."
‑ Sean Axmaker,
"Secret of the Grain may be the most ambitious, complex, and suspenseful film about a feast ever to be served at the movies."
‑ Jeffrey Overstreet, Looking Closer
"Everyone figures in a masterfully paced final act that's hypnotic, genuinely suspenseful and emotionally complex."
‑ Stan Hall, Oregonian

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