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Secret of the Grain (The Criterion Collection)

The Criterion Collection

DVD

3.8 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Winner of four César awards, including best picture and director, Abdellatif Kechiche’s The Secret of the Grain is a stirring drama about the daily joys and struggles of a bustling French-Arab family. 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. 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.

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The south of France seen in director-writer Abdellatif Kechiche's The Secret of the Grain is a far cry from the rolling countryside, quaint little towns, and romantic seaside resorts pictured in tourist guidebooks. The port city of Sète, where the story happens, is a gritty, charmless place, home to a community of French-speaking Arab immigrants for whom life is a quotidian challenge merely to get by. Among them is 61-year-old Slimane Beiji (Habib Boufares), whose problems are legion: his hours as a dockworker have been cut back, his ex-wife nags him about dilatory support payments, his thoroughly unreliable elder son is a serial adulterer who barely acknowledges his wife and young child. But it's not all bad; this taciturn, stoic man also has other children who love him, a girlfriend who tries to comfort him, and, in his lover's daughter Rym (newcomer Hafsia Herzi, whose performance is the best in the movie), a smart, feisty young advocate who's genuinely devoted to him. Slimane also has a plan: having bought a rusted-out wreck of a ship, he wants to convert it into a restaurant staffed by his family and starring his ex's delicious fish couscous (hence the French title: La graine et le mulet--as in the fish, not the haircut). How all of this unfolds, including Rym helping Slimane negotiate the tedious bureaucratic roadblocks standing between him and his dream, is absorbing, if not exactly riveting. Kechiche seems more interested in creating texture than telling a story; this is a long (two and a half hours) film with a great deal more talk than action, dominated by various extended family scenes featuring handheld camera work and lingering close-ups. But viewers who hang in there will be well rewarded, as the tale builds to a bittersweet climax highlighted by Rym's belly dance, an extraordinary sequence that is much better seen than described (a 45-minute re-edit of this scene is the highlight of the excellent bonus material, which also features an interview with the director and several featurettes). --Sam Graham


Special features

  • New high-definition digital transfer
  • New video interview with Kechiche
  • Sueur, Kechiche's extended version of the belly dancing sequence
  • New video interview with film scholar Ludovic Cortade
  • Excerpt from a 20 heures television interview with Kechiche
  • Video interviews with Herzi, actress Bouraouia Marzouk
  • Theatrical trailer
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by film critic Wesley Morris

  • Product details

    • Actors: Habib Boufares
    • Directors: Abdellatif Kechiche
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
    • Language: French
    • Subtitles: English
    • Dubbed: Arabic
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated:
      Unrated
      Not Rated
    • Studio: IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT
    • DVD Release Date: July 27, 2010
    • Run Time: 154 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews
    • ASIN: B003ICZW96
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,595 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
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    • Learn more about "Secret of the Grain (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

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