Caramel (Arabic: سكر بنات Sukkar banat), the first feature film by Lebanese director/actress Nadine Labaki, is a 2007 Lebanese film. The film premiered on May 20 at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.
Caramel was distributed in over 40 countries, easily becoming the most internationally acclaimed and exposed Lebanese film to date. The story focuses on the lives of five Lebanese women dealing with issues such as forbidden love, binding traditions, repressed sexuality, the struggle to accept the natural process of age, and duty VS desire.
Labaki's film is unique for not showcasing a war-ravaged Beirut but rather a warm and inviting locale where people deal with universal issues.
The title Caramel refers to an epilation method that consists of heating sugar, water and lemon juice. Labaki also symbolically implies the "idea of sweet and salt, sweet and sour" and showcases that everyday relations can sometimes be sticky but ultimately the sisterhood shared between the central female characters prevails.
Caramel revolves around the intersecting lives of five Lebanese women. Layale (Nadine Labaki) works in a beauty salon in Beirut along with two other women, Nisrine (Yasmine Al Masri) and Rima (Joanna Moukarzel).
Each one has a problem: Layale is stuck in a dead-end relationship with a married man; Nisrine is no longer a virgin but is set to be married and in her conservative family where pre-marital sex is not accepted; Rima is attracted to women; Jamale (Gisèle Aouad), a regular customer and wannabe actress, is worried about getting old; Rose (Sihame Haddad), a tailor with a shop next to the salon, is an old woman who had devoted her life to taking care of her mentally unbalanced older sister Lili (Aziza Semaan), but has found her first love.
The film doesn't refer to any of the political problems or recent warfare that has troubled Lebanon. Rather, Labaki's tale paints everyday people with everyday problems.