A Summer In La Goulette
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The year is 1967 in La Goulette - a small harbor town in the suburbs of Tunis where various cultures have lived together for ages in effortless harmony. Youssef, Jojo and Giuseppe are as inseparable as their three 16-year-old-daughters, Meriem, Gigi and Tina. In a fit of teenage provocation, the three girls swear that they will lose their virginity by the day of the procession of the Madonna. To make matters worse, each of them has her eyes on a boy of a different religion, thus challenging an inviolable taboo. This leads the three families to cut off all ties with one another. But the bonds tying the three fathers are too strong. They end up making up, more like brothers than ever, just before the Six Day War breaks out in the Middle East, tearing apart Jews and Arabs the world over.
A Summer In La Goulette is a comic but loving celebration that works on many levels. It's a wonderfully animated and exuberant story about everyday life and friendship. --Toronto Sun
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Religion is a predominant theme in the film. Summer in Goulette depicts these three families who, despite a difference in religion, all abide by the same cultural standards and tongue. Because of this shared culture, the characters treat religion lightly.. Throughout we see the men jest about it, poke fun at which point everyone shares a hearty laugh. When the central conflict occurs - the daughters of each family are making out with boys! - the three fathers force their daughters to stay inside. Each rant to their wives about what a negative influence the religions of their friends are to have provoked such behavior in their daughters. As is stated before, although they are blaming religion, they all react culturally to it in the same way. As the end the three fathers realize their stupidity, put aside their religions, and reunite as friends at to the end of the movie - the day before the Muslims,Jews, and Christians are pushed into conflict against one another.
Summer in Goulette also touches upon many other subjects, as well, that all three of the religions had in common culturally: friendship, marriage, pedophilia, the low status of women (such as the expectation to remain virgins until marriage, to allow their husbands to have mistresses, to have their fathers choose his daughter's husband), and the higher status of men (such as the acceptance of boys to have sex before marriage, the expectation of married men to be philanderers, the responsibility to deal out physical punishment upon their children), and the changing cultural status by the younger generation (such as the three daughters eager to loose their virginity, their desire to marry for love, and their outspoken condemnation of cheating).
A time when Tunisia was a location where Arabs, Jews and Catholics were all living in peace, no war. Sure, each have their religious differences but Boughedh's film shows us that once upon a time, everyone lived in peace. He remembers dear to his heart, summertime in La Goulette before the war in 1967.
"A Summer in La Goulette" was nominated for a Golden Berlin Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival and now arrives on DVD in the U.S. courtesy of Kino International.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"The Summer in La Goulette" is presented in Anamorphic (1:66:1) and presented in Arabic and French with English subtitles.
The picture quality is good as a lot of the film is shot outdoors. Cinematography by Robert Alazraki does showcase the beauty of the scenery and the local area. I didn't see any major artifacts or blemishes in the print. But there is good lighting in the film, also scenes capturing the more sensual moments featuring Merriam. As for audio, dialogue is clear and subtitles are easy to read.
There are no special features in this DVD release of "A Summer in La Goulette".
In many ways, a synopsis of "A Summer in La Goulette" probably does not give the film too much credit as it sounds like any banal '80s teen film of young men and women wanting to lose their virginity.
But for Ferid Boughedir's "A Summer in La Goulette", one thing that I have noticed is that its efficacy lies within the fact that it's not an American film. Because of the political and religious differences of the characters and the fact that the storyline does take place right before the Arab and Israeli conflict of 1967, the film can be seen as a slice of life and possibly a little non-discrete with its tone towards the war and showing how Arabs, Muslims and Catholics can be friends with each other as it was seen in the film and perhaps a great memory of the life that Boughedir experienced as a young man.
As I looked on the Internet to see what took place in Tunisia in 1967, I've learned that in the area, Tunisia once had a significant Jewish population but it was severely cut down to hundreds through the wars that the country had experienced. The Catholics left first, the Jews followed and although the film was released back in theaters in 1996, seeing the Tunisian revolution take place in 2011, to see the protest of the social and political issues that have taken place in Tunisia, and then watching a film like "A Summer in La Goulette", is no surprise that people have warmed up to this film because it does show the country during a time when peace ruled the land, Muslims, Catholics and Jews could be friends, neighbors and more.
As for the DVD, it's a barebone release, no special features at all. It would have been great to revisit the filmmaker or some of the talent and reflect on the film.
So, yes... "A Summer in La Goulette" does have those titillating moments, those upbeat teenage sexual urges that many of us in the West have seen so many times in '80s and '90s American films but because the film does incorporate deeper issues, it showcases a time of an enjoyable and free-spirited time in the Tunis seaside and possibly a nostalgic film for those who have lived in the region at the time.
A film that showcases sexual freedom, multicultural differences but also a time of pace set before the Arab-Israeli conflict of 1967, "A Summer in La Goulette" is an entertaining, sensual film from director Ferid Boughedir.