Last night my boyfriend and I escaped the confines of our one-room flat to watch ‘Couscous‘ or ‘La graine et le mulet’. And I’m not sure I like it. It’s too much like life. Too real. For starters, it’s about Slimane who’s been laid off work after working 35 years making boats on the coast of Southern France. On a measly severance pay he decides to open a floating restaurant out of a rust heap.
Though handicapped with a lack of business skills and a sullen personality, Slimane has the good luck of having a large family, a new lover, and her daughter who are enthusiastic about realising his dreams. All is amiss at the lavish opening night of his restaurant, aimed at impressing investors, when his ex-wife’s delicious couscous goes missing.
Attempts to allay his guests impatience become desperate: his girlfriend tries to rescue the situation by cooking her less than tasty couscous instead, and her daughter distracts the guests with an oh-so-sensual belly dance. Cliche alert! During the search, Slimane’s moped gets whisked away by three children. His absurd chase for the moped then becomes a glaring symbol of futility of success as an immigrant. At the end of the film I was left feeling a little bothered and frustrated. What bothered me was the investors will be served bad couscous: bad stereotypes of Moroccan immigrants, when there is good couscous, somewhere out there. If you can see through the subtle symbolisms and racism depicted in the film, then you might enjoy it, like my bf.
Three out of five popcorns