The Secret of the Grain (2008) I wish The Secret of the Grain had another title, something that conveys the vibrancy teeming in this great drama of daily life — something… 2008-12-26 Unrated PT151M Drama Foreign Language Habib Boufares Farida Benkhetache Hafsia Herzi Pathe Contemporary Films
Movie Review

The Secret of the Grain (2008)

MPAA Rating: Unrated
The Secret of the Grain | Ride On: Hafsia Herzi and Habib Boufares hit the road
Ride On: Hafsia Herzi and Habib Boufares hit the road
EW's GRADE
A

Details Limited Release: Dec 26, 2008; Rated: Unrated; Length: 151 Minutes; Genres: Drama, Foreign Language; With: Habib Boufares; Distributor: Pathe Contemporary Films

I wish The Secret of the Grain had another title, something that conveys the vibrancy teeming in this great drama of daily life — something less grainy. But what makes Tunisian-born, French-raised director Abdellatif Kechiche's movie so engrossing — his intuitive grasp 
 of relationships — is exactly what's difficult to capture, even in the original French name, 
 La Graine et le Mulet. Literally, the title means The Seed and the Mullet, referring to the couscous and species of Mediterranean fish that are diet staples of Tunisian immigrants along the French coastal area of Séte, where the story is set. But it's also the name of a specific dish that Slimane (marvelously grave Habib 
 Boufares), a careworn immigrant laid off from his job as a shipyard laborer, hopes to make the centerpiece of his new restaurant.

By extension, the title embraces the richness of Kechiche's beautiful film, which captures the rhythms of displacement and hardship, the bond of family meals, and even the daily routines of the magnificent women who are part of Slimane's life. From his generous 
 ex-wife (who still packs up meals for him to eat, alone) to his strong adult daughters, to the firebrand daughter (astonishing Hafsia Herzi) of his landlady-lover, he's a man both cut off from his roots and supported by branches. A

Originally posted Jan 07, 2009 Published in issue #1030 Jan 16, 2009 Order article reprints