Set in the touristic beach resort town of La Goulette, Tunisia, A Summer in La Goulette is the sometimes-sweet-sometimes-crass coming of age story of three seventeen year old girls from very different religious backgrounds. Teen friends Meriem (Muslim), Tina (Jewish), and Gigi (Catholic), bored with their lives on the beach and curious about romance, make a pact that they will lose their virginity and “become women” by the end of summer.When their fathers, Youssef, Jojo, and Giuseppe, discover their plan, they are obviously outraged. But their anger stems not only from the idea of their precious daughters becoming sexually active, but from the fact that the boys that each of their daughters have chosen are from different religious backgrounds than they are.

Amidst the comedic teen angst and sexual desires, director Ferid Boughedir explores the devisive nature of religious beliefs and practices, even among long-time friends. In what is essentially a coming of age comedy it’s surprising to see such difficult subject matter explored, and even more surprising to see it explored so effectively. As the fathers grow angry with their daughter’s choices they also grow angry with each other for discriminating against boys of their respective faiths.

Taking place right before the 2nd Arab-Israeli War of 1967, the idea of Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim neighbors living in peace in the same bulding, and even being childhood friends, is examined and shown in lovely slice-of-life moments. Though the war is never mentioned until the final scene, the choice of time and location couldn’t be more apt. While “tensions in the Middle East” are constantly addressed and dismissed by characters in the film, little do they realize what events will soon play out on their very doorsteps.

A Summer in La Goulette is a rare dramatic comedy that works on many levels; the light comedic bits are played out for entertainment value while the heavier scenes are well-acted and intense. An interesting side story about a lecherous elder landlord known as the “Double Hadj” is a bit creepy and almost feels like a different story in itself, but other than that the film stays on course through its 100 minute running time. Beautifully shot, expertly constructed, and socially relevant, A Summer in La Goulette is a film for all creeds who believe peace and acceptance is possible.

Zach’s Rating: B
Foreign Film Fanatic’s rating: A
Michael Bay fan’s rating: D+

To purchase A Summer in La Goulette, visit Arab Film Distribution

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