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The Secret of the Grain (French: La graine et le mulet, also released internationally as Couscous) is a 2007 Franco-Tunisian drama film directed by Abdellatif Kechiche. The French title of the film refers to a "grain of couscous" and to mullet, a type of small fish, both popular in Tunisian cuisine.
Slimane Beiji (Habib Boufares) is the divorced head of a Franco-Arabic family living in Sete. With Rym's enthusiastic help, Slimane applies for the relevant licences and loans, but soon finds himself knee-deep in bureaucratic red tape. Having prepared the couscous, fish, vegetables and sauce in large metal cauldrons, Slimane's ex-wife sends the food to the boat with her sons and leaves her apartment to find a 'poor man' so that she can donate a plate of food that she habitually reserves for the less fortunate. In the dining room the guests, despite the attempts of the women to placate them with assurances and date liqueur, become extremely restless. As Rym dances and sweats, her mother walks up the gangplank with a new cauldron of couscous, whilst Slimane continues to chase the youths around the apartment building.
Habib Boufares as Slimane Beiji, a sixty-year-old shipyard worker and immigrant from the Maghreb. Hafsia Herzi as Rym, the precocious twenty-year-old daughter of hotelier Latifa and a second-generation immigrant. BouraouA?a Marzouk as Souad, Slimane's first wife of roughly equal age and matriarch of their family.
Cyril Favre as Sergei, Julia's supportive and diplomatic brother who gently attempts to reconcile Slimane and his family to his sister's suffering and Majid's neglect. Sabrina Ouazani as Olfa, another of Slimane's daughters by Souad and the youngest sibling, charged with caring for the younger children in the extended family.
THE SECRET OF THE GRAIN (2007) Trailer - The Criterion CollectionAvailable on Blu-ray and DVD on July 27, 2010!
In a€?The Secret of the Graina€? he immerses us in the hectic, tender, sometimes painful details of work and domesticity. That dinner scene and its asides (the diaper talk is epic, too) last for what feels like a fifth of the movie, and the richness holds up for the rest of the film. Just like the belly-dancer who performs in its climactic scene, The Secret of the Grain is a film padded with fat. Abdellatif Kechiche has been working on his craft meticulously since his 2000 debut a€?La faulte a Voltaire,a€? often garnering great acclaim in the process. Keanu is fun, and even sometimes outright hilarious, but it doesn’t live up to the skills of its central performers. Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common.
A report from a panel at Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival about diversity in the light of the 2015 Oscar ceremony. FFC Gerardo Valero discusses the devolution of Quentin Tarantino by comparing The Hateful Eight to Pulp Fiction.
Winner of four Cesar awards, including best picture and director, Abdellatif Kechiche?s The Secret of the Grain is a stirring story about the daily joys and struggles of a bustling French-Arab family.
The film was shot using high-def cameras so I can?t say I?m too surprised by what we get, which is a fairly striking image.
If I don?t sound overly enthused it?s because this is pretty much what I expected and can?t say I was surprised but it looks crisp, clean, and very sharp. All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space.
The film contains a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track and though it?s not overly active it does have some surprises. The first item is an interview with Abdellatif Kechiche that was conducted exclusively for Criterion.
The most interesting feature on here, though, may be the next one, a ?short film? compiled together from footage shot for the film?s climactic belly dance sequence. Criterion also includes an excerpt from a French television program called 20 Heures, filmed for French television after The Secret of the Grain did rather well at the Cesar Awards. The next interview with Bouraouia Marzouk, who plays the ex-wife, Souad, is probably the best interview on here. The release then concludes with the French theatrical trailer, which I felt gave away a lot of the film in its 2-minutes. A slim booklet comes with a worthwhile essay by Wesley Morris, who opens by basically stating how stupid (if not putting it that bluntly) the English language title is, which I happen to agree with. I?m surprised deleted scenes didn?t make it, and footage from the Cesar?s would have been great, especially since there?s so much excitement surrounding them in some of the interviews. The film stars Habib Boufares as an aging immigrant from the Maghreb whose ambition to establish a successful restaurant as an inheritance for his large and disparate family meets sceptical opposition from the French bureaucracy. The two ingredients constitute both the staple of his extended family's diet and the menu on which he plans to establish his restaurant.
As he is being forced out of his job at the local shipyard, he interacts in a series of extended vignettes with various members of his extended family including his ex-wife, his sons and daughters, their husbands and wives, and his grandchildren.
Undaunted, Slimane enlists his sons to help with the renovation and arranges an opening gala of a large dinner party, to which he invites the many bureaucrats on whose decision the fate of the project rests, in an attempt to demonstrate the viability of the enterprise.
At the restaurant, the sons unload the metal cauldrons and the women serve wine and appetisers to the waiting guests. Divorced from his first wife, Souad, he lives in the run-down Hotel de l'Orient owned by Latifa and her daughter Rym.

She regards Slimane as her father and works to assist him in realising his ambition of starting a couscous restaurant. She lives in an apartment building on the floor below her son Hamid and regularly cooks a large Sunday meal of couscous for her extended family. She feels isolated from and unsupported by his large family, left alone all day and often all night to care for their young son with only her brother for comfort and assistance.
Married to Russian immigrant Julia with an infant son, he is a notorious philanderer; whilst he neglects his own young family, he still participates fully in the life of his extended family. An adolescent with a nascent moustache, he assists in renovating the restaurant-boat under his father's supervision and maintains a romantic infatuation with Rym. Dorner, the Deputy Mayor of the port town responsible for authorising Slimane's docking permissions for his restaurant-boat.
Kechiche's relationship to France, where he grew up from the age of 5, is more complicated, which gives his film, a€?The Secret of the Grain,a€? much of its power.
I have a feeling it will be, like the first film of Isabelle Huppert, not simply a debut, but an announcement: Here I am, and I am the real thing.
You will receive a weekly newsletter full of movie-related tidbits, articles, trailers, even the occasional streamable movie. It has the texture of a documentary but a classic, almost Shakespearean structure: when patriarch Slimane acts on his wish to open a port-side restaurant specializing in his ex-wife?s fish couscous, the extended clan?s passions and problems explode in riveting drama, leading to an engrossing, suspenseful climax.
The image is clean, detail is high, colours look wonderful, and of course, since this was taken directly from the digital source, there is no damage of any sort. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality. It sticks primarily to the fronts, actually sounding like it sticks to the center speaker through most of the film, spreading out to the other fronts during busier sequences.
It?s short, running only 13-minutes, but Kechiche manages to pack some great material in here, including his original desire to cast his father in the lead (which didn?t happen because he died before filming began,) and his interest in the working class, but brings up he has no desire to make any sort of political statement because he feels that would be disservice to his characters. Simply called Sueur (which means ?Sweat?) and running 45-minutes, Kechiche in a short introduction explains he chose to include this instead of deleted scenes (which there are plenty of apparently) and considered it to be ?like a film? all on its own. In the segment there is short segment interviewing the residents of Sete, where the film was shot, who appeared in or worked on the film, and they all gush over how well the film did. Actually, it?s not that bad, but the other features are all so brisk that this one is a little bit of a chore to sit through as he talks about ?Beur? films (Beur being a slang term for French-Arab) and how Secret of the Grain doesn?t fit into that genre.
A non-professional who really lucked into the role, she talks for 11-minutes about her history and how she got the role, and then gets into great detail about how she built up this character. It?s a light little piece, with the musicians playing a bit and then talking about their roles in the film, rehearsing with Kechiche, and then moving on to Eastern music, their instruments, and then Hafsia?s dance. But Criterion has put together a rather comprehensive set of supplements that offer some strong analysis and intriguing behind-the-scenes stories, despite the film being so new. Slimani, a tired sixty year old, drags himself towards a shipyard job which has become more and more difficult to cope with as the years go by.
Determined to leave a legacy for his beloved family, and encouraged by his long-term partner's daughter, Rym, (Hafsia Herzi) he pursues his dream of converting a dilapidated boat into a family restaurant that will specialise in his ex-wife's fish couscous, a meal that she prepares for the entire family every Sunday.
On the night in question attendance is high, although notable by her absence is his long-term partner, Latifa. The guests, talking amongst themselves, begin to speak both positively and anxiously about the likely success of the restaurant, now concerned that it may draw custom away from the other restaurants in the area.
When he cannot find his ex-wife, Slimane leaves the apartment building to find his motorbike stolen. When they come back on, Rym stands before the assembled diners in a red belly-dancing outfit. Nonetheless she attempts to participate in the endeavour to establish the couscous restaurant. She is the energy at the heart of a life-filled portrait of a big family of first-generation immigrants in a shabby French port city, a family that nourishes love, jealousy, discouragement, ambition, and a whole lot of dining and talking. What were you expecting, Napoleon's toenails?The wave of immigrants from former French colonies like Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria began in the late 1950s and continues, but most of the early arrivals are now grandparents, their offspring speaking only a few words of Arabic. With sensitivity and grit, The Secret of the Grain celebrates the role food plays in family life and gets to the core of contemporary immigrant experience.
Some artifacts are visible in darker sequences, specifically ?digital grain? but this has nothing to do with the transfer itself; I?m sure this is exactly how it looks.
But there?s a few scattered moments where sound moves to the rears, naturally and clearly, and then the finale presents a far livelier presentation. He talks about the development of the story (which morphed all through the development process,) casting, and his use of handheld cameras. The entire ?film? focuses solely on the belly dance, the musicians, and the guests, never cutting to other scenes like it does in the actual film. In the studio both Kechiche and actress Hafsia Herzi are present, talking to the host about the film and the awards, specifically Herzi?s award for what I guess would be ?Best Newcomer.? Unfortunately short, and I wish there was some footage from the actual awards, but getting brief interviews with various members of the cast mixed with the excitement throughout about the film?s wins makes it an enjoyable little piece. He covers its presentations of racism, which is subtle, explains some character motivations, goes into the French title (which is La graine et le mulet,) and also explains the director?s use of long scenes. She talks about her desire to become an actress and how she came to work on this film, her first real acting gig, and then her eventual win at the Cesar Awards.
For someone who is a non-professional I was rather surprised how much thought and preparation she put into preparing for the role, even picking out the items that would be in her character?s kitchen. I must confess I avoided this film solely because of the title, but I found it a rather wonderful film, probably the biggest surprise I?ve had in a while.
He is a divorced father who forces himself to stay close to his family despite the scissions and tensions which are easily sparked off and which financial difficulties make even more intense.

Insulted and threatened by the involvement of Slimane's ex-wife in the project, the restaurant's cook and creator of the pivotal fish couscous, Latifa refuses to leave her hotel. Slimane's son Majid, whilst surveying the crowd, notices a bureaucrat's wife with whom he has had several illicit sexual liaisons and decides to leave quietly. The culprits, three young boys, sit atop the stolen bike on the other side of the river, mocking him. The musicians play for her and she entrances the guests with a fervent performance, charged with youthful, sexual energy. We land in the middle of such a family, its patriarch the grave, taciturn Slimane Beiji (Habib Boufares), who was born in Tunisia. The bitrate is surprisingly low (high-teens to low twenties through a majority of the film) but I still can?t say I noticed any problems because of this. Sound quality is excellent, with no noise or distortion, natural sounding dialogue, and excellent range. There?s more numbers, singing, and the guests seem to go a little more overboard in their partying (including a quick cut to vomiting.) It?s intriguing seeing the entire sequence (or at least a bigger chunk of it) and is fun, but it might be a little long. There?s some decent analysis in here and I do feel I got some interesting insights out of it but it?s unfortunately dry. She covers what it was like to work with Kechiche and how he changed the character she was playing, sounding like it was expanded upon substantially, and then talks about the belly dance, having to take dance lessons and gain weight. As to the Blu-ray it?s a strong release, one of Criterion?s stronger ones for a newer film. He is going through a delicate period in his life and recently, everything seems to make him feel useless; a failure.
Rym pleads with her to attend, encouraging her to use the opportunity to flaunt her comparative youth and beauty in front of Slimane's ex-wife, and eventually she concedes.
He instructs his brother to tell the rest of the family that he has gone to help a friend who has broken down on the highway. He runs after them, but every time they stop to mock him they move on before he can catch up to them.
Latifa uses the opportunity to slip off the boat and return to the hotel to start a new pot of couscous. He's in the process of losing his job at a shipyard, and negotiating uneasily between his first wife, Souad (Bouraouia Marzouk), and his lover, Latifa (Hatika Karaoui), who owns a little hotel.
It?s not an exciting presentation, but presents the film perfectly and still sounds quite sharp.
She comes off a little shy, or at least reserved, but is still charming and keeps the interview interesting. He has two sons, one always in lust, but saves his deepest affection for Latifa's daughter, Rym (Hafsia Herzi). However it appears to be an unreachable dream given his meagre, irregular salary which is not anywhere near enough to supply what he needs to realise his ambition. Panic mounts when they discover that it is definitively absent and Majid, who has taken the car that still holds the metal cauldron in the trunk, is not answering his phone. We have to gather these facts from the others, because Slimane doesn't confide.The Tunisian-born writer-director Abdellatif Kechiche isn't interested in a formal story, although he does provide a cliff-hanging third act. Knowing that it will take at least another hour to cook a new batch, they continue to frantically call Majid and attempt to call Souad, who is out searching for an unfortunate in need of plate of couscous. A family which gradually recompacts around this project which comes to symbolise the means to a better life. Early in the film, he has a dinner table scene of such virtuosity that we feel we know everyone, even those we haven't seen before.
This scene only incidentally sets up plot points; its purpose is to show strong opinions, deep feelings, humor and a sincere interest in the food. The cook is the first wife, renowned for her couscous; she always sends a plate home to Slimane, who lives in a little room in Latifa's hotel.
She also, as a ritual, gives a plate from every meal to the nearest homeless man she can find.Still waters run deep. Slimane reveals plans to use his severance pay to open a restaurant aboard a rusty ship in the harbor, serving Souad's couscous.
His strongest supporter is Rym, and as she talks with Slimane, and a group of old musicians who live at the hotel, and to her mother, she reveals herself as an instinctive actress who tells each what they need to hear. She never gets angry, never pushes too hard and doesn't insist, but it's almost impossible to keep her from having her way."Secret of the Grain" arrives at a big free dinner thrown by Slimane for the town big shots, in hopes of getting planning permission for the restaurant. The younger generation all seem quintessentially French to us, but what do we know?There are two amazing dialogue scenes.
One involves Rym pleading with her mother to attend Slimane's opening night, despite the couscous being prepared by the other woman. The other involves Alice Houri as Julie, who is married to Slimane's womanizing son and explains with astonishing passion why he is a liar, a worthless scumbag, a failure as husband and father.This verbal assault comes to poor Slimane as the latest in a series of disasters, including the delivery of the dinner. Remember her name."The Secret of the Grain" is also available available via IFC's on demand program.

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