Tannoura Maxi Review *Spoiler Alert*

Before I begin my review, you should know that Tannoura Maxi has been banned officially from theaters following a request by the Lebanese Catholic Information Center. I am of course against this ban because 1) it’s cultural terrorism and 2) the movie didn’t disrespect the Church nor Christianity in anyway.

Moving on to the review, let me just say in few words that Tannoura Maxi is like a badly prepared Tabbouleh. It has all the basic ingredients for a fine Lebanese Tabbouleh but some ingredients are put in excess, while others are missing and inappropriate ingredients are added. I personally found the movie long and boring, the plot a bit silly and unrealistic (despite being inspired from a true story), the characters dull, and the whole sex and religion themes very badly expressed.

Despite all that, I can understand why some people might like it from an artistic and poetic point of view. Indeed, the movie is very nicely filmed and has special features unseen before in a Lebanese production. The visuals and art direction are beautiful, especially the close-ups on pretty things and nostalgic items. I particularly loved the part where they play the old Ray-o-Vac ad. Nevertheless, all those positive aspects are not really appealing to the average or non-artistic viewer which pretty much explains the overwhelming negative feedbacks Tannoura Maxi received so far.

Digging deeper into the movie, and given that it’s inspired from a true story on how the director’s parents met, here are few things that I thought were inaccurate or did not like:

1- No one wears high heels to go to the well or “3al 3ein” as they say in Lebanese villages.
2- Women were way too overdressed for masses in the movie. That’s not accurate specially that most of them live in the village and are not coming for a visit and we are at war.
3- The music played in parties and on weddings is weird and has almost nothing to do with old traditional Lebanese songs. Unless I am missing something, this music is new to me.
4- I’ve been to masses in many villages and never heard women talk loudly and in such an offensive way about others. It was way too exaggerated and offending to Lebanese women and Lebanese in general.
5- Public signs of affection were not common in villages, even during war time. They are not even that common in the cities in Lebanon. Oh and Priests didn’t dirty dance and kiss at the time.
6- The scene where the priest is cutting some wood and showing off his muscles is really bad.
7- There’s at least 10 minutes of footage where the main character is walking towards the church, her house or to the well and you only hear the clacking noise of high heels. That’s where I felt like walking out of the theater.
8- I didn’t really understand the role the mentally challenged characters played in that movie. They are given way too much importance but it’s like the director focused more on how good they were playing their part rather than make it a significant one.
9- There’s a whorehouse in the village. Show me one village in Lebanon that has a whorehouse or had one back in 1982.
10- I did not sense a real connection between the various scenes of the movie. It’s like you jump from one scene to the other.
11- The monologues are confusing and seem out of place. There’s way too many as well.

In regards to the movie themes and controversial scenes:
1- Director Joe Bou Eid is portraying the Lebanese Forces as being thugs and criminals while Leftists are the good guys. I don’t care who’s wrong or right historically but taking sides does not send out the right message to younger generations.
2- The scene where the LF guy is the only one dancing with an Arak glass in one hand and a cigarette in the other is pure cliché and unoriginal. Leave those clichés to Comedy shows ya Joe!
3- The two key characters in the movie barely talk to each other and all of a sudden have sex and get married. When I first heard him talking about the movie on TV, and saying that it depicts how his parents met, I thought I was in for an original story. However, the movie makes it look as a one night stand where the girl got pregnant and had to marry the guy.
4- The sex scene did not occur in the Church but in a convent. It’s still a holy place but I still don’t think that’s a valid reason to ban the movie.
5- The movie shows the priest as a weak and vulnerable person, one not worthy of becoming a man of God, and does not really insult the Church or Christianity. There’s nothing wrong with falling in love with a girl and stirring away from priesthood, but going against your own beliefs by sleeping with the girl and then marrying her the next day is not something I would go out and tell, or at least not tell in the way Joe Bou Eid did.

There’s one review on IMDb by Sarah Zebian which I agree with and pretty much says it:

Poor story-line, poor scenario, poor performances.

The movie is full of eye-candy. Very little else, except quick-wins like the Rayovac commercial, the traditional dough-making scene, etc, obviously added in to trigger nostalgia without having any real role. Close-ups of the main characters and colorful scenic shots, despite their beauty, are excessive and quickly turn into a nuisance – a failed attempt to overshadow the lack of substance in the movie.

The love story fails to come across as genuine – as the rest of this movie. The two main characters never utter a word as far as I noticed! Generally, presumptuous and a waste of time!

On a last note, I understand that we should be supportive when it comes to Lebanese movies but I think we should point out a bad movie when we see one. Moreover, I strongly believe Lebanese directors need to come out with original ideas and stop digging old civil war stories.

IMDb Rating: 7/10 (From 56 users only)
My Rating: 4.5/10

10 thoughts on “Tannoura Maxi Review *Spoiler Alert*

  1. Elie

    I said in an overall comment on my blog regarding the movie that if the director wanted to take a jab at the LF, at least own up to it and don’t let it go along the lines of cliches and, as you said, comedy-show material.
    Besides, were the LF the only “thugs” present at the time in Christian communities? Highly doubtful.
    If you want to pass a political agenda, then try to do it convincingly.

    I haven’t watched the movie so I can’t judge the content but your review correlates with what everyone I know has told me about it.
    I didn’t know about the whorehouse though and the loud talks in church, among other things. I come from a village and there’s no way those things happen.

    I think, possibly, the problem with Tannoura Maxi is that the director tried to jumble too many things (religion, politics, aesthetics, etc) that he ended up falling short on all those levels.

    Reply
  2. Joe

    I haven’t watched the movie but from what i heard and from the trailer and poster it is clearly visible that he’s imitating nadine labaki’s style coté aesthetics, characters, nostalgic ambiance and even the title’s font and the poster colors that are similar to caramel

    Reply
    1. Rana

      I want to say it LOUDLY TO EVERYONE WHO DON’T KNOW this movie has been shot 5 years ago, which means before Nadine labaki movies (same time with Caramel) and i know this info from a friend of mine who did a casting in tannoura Maxi.

      Reply
  3. UTH

    Hello Najib, I haven’t watched the movie and I find your commentary enlightening. Though I’d like to pinpoint one thing, I’m from Mhaydseh, which is a tiny village near Bickfaya, and there used to be a whorehouse in there, a long time ago, back when my grandfather was a stud and my grandmother was pregnant. So that’s at least one thing the director didn’t get totally wrong.

    Reply
  4. Wael

    المخرج جو بو عيد لـ “أو تي في”: فيلم “تنورة ماكسي” سيستمرّ عرضه بعد اقتطاع مشاهد منه

    Reply
  5. Rana

    Dear Najib,
    First off all, to all who is saying “thank you”, I don’t share your opinions and am really disappointed from what is written and somehow it is a shame and non logic!

    Usually i don’t comment, but here i felt i am concerned and wanted to answer point by point the following:
    but before this I want to say it LOUDLY TO EVERYONE WHO DON’T KNOW this movie has been shot 5 years ago, which means before Nadine labaki movies (same time with Caramel) and i know this info from a friend of mine who did a casting in tannoura Maxi.

    to go back an answer you M. NAJIB:
    1- You talked about the women wearing heels to draw water!! as if you didnt saw the movie!! and from this first point I was disappointed from your Blog! BECAUSE it is very clear in the movie why the women is wearing heels and the Director wrote it directly after this shot ” Mother always wears heels even to draw water!!!!!””” as if darabna kaff w allnaa khedooo!! and dont juge before the following image comes because this is real Cinema…..

    2- women wasn’t overdressed!!! it is the KID how he saw them all in his own way!!…
    It is very clear in the movie and obvious how things are seen by the eyes of the kid…. who colored everything and overdressed everything!!

    Oh GOD I cant believe am writing and am frustrated how this Wonderful movie isnt well received from you..

    3- alll the points that comes after like the music that you found non realistic, for me is a piece of art… and also it comes from the music box of the child!!
    it can be even Indian and for me it has its point and it is well placed

    4- I have been to masses in many villages too and I saw and I heard even worst from what i saw and heard in Tanoura Maxii!!

    5- who said the priest dosnt play football??? you know that the 2 seminarist of my villages are both basketball players and they give courses to 2 classes in weekdays??

    6- it is ur subjective opinion and u have the right to like or not to like…

    7- The heels sounds was for me enough to understand that the main role is invading the priest life! it comes in stead of the missiles sounds! and it is done to disturb sometimes but for me it gave a wonderful rhythm which is more cinematic than any other musical note…

    8- Those characters made me cry!!
    I loved every single frame where they appeared i was touched by their Vo and the most powerful shot of the movie is in front of the mirror where they did something that really a lot of people do…

    9-Thank you UTH for saying that there is Whorehouses in villages even before 80th and during the war they were over populated dear……

    10 – it is the puzzle game!!!!! the memory shredded of the child, the disconnection is normal when you deal with memory, with nostalgia, with childhood!!!!!
    I can’t believe really who you read the great things in the bad way :((( i feel really sad (sorry by the way i needed to tell my feeling suddenly here..)

    11- the monologue for me was better than what Ziad Rahbany has ever wrote!! It is the main point of the movie! it is the confession of every person playing a role in this life!!…

    Oufffff how much i WOULD LIKE TO SAY MORE….
    and for the leftist who said that the director was from the side of the leftist???
    In the Voice over he made fun of him as he did with all others….!!

    Briefly I am in love with this movie… And i feel sometimes sorry how it is badly received by some, because some are really falling in love with this movie…

    10/10!

    Reply

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