Review of How Bitter My Sweet! by Mohammed Soueid, Lebanon/UAE

A friend once told me that the Lebanese are absurd people; they all love Lebanon but hate each other. Reading the title of Lebanese filmmaker Mohamed Soueid’s film Bahibbak ya wahesh (How Bitter my Sweet!) – which literally translates into “I love you, you monster” – brought that comment back to my mind.

In his film, Soueid introduces six very colourful and varied characters from Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Sudan who only have two things in common: they all live in Lebanon and none of them are particularly happy!

Through their stories, Soueid sheds light on Lebanese society, its political turmoil and relationship with its neighbours and foreign immigrants. It gives very little background information though, so unless you are familiar with Lebanon’s political and social ups and downs, How Bitter my Sweet! is likely to leave you a bit confused.

Soueid organized the content of his interviews in several thematic sections. He then randomly marked these sections with sometimes functional and at other times creative titles like Knock Knock in contrast with Neighborhood and On the Road. While this gives a reportage feel to the film, it also allows the viewers to listen to decide for themselves what they think.

While How Bitter my Sweet! offers little new information, it is a good discussion generator, so if you choose to attend its screening at the Abu Dhabi film festival make sure not to miss the Q&A session.

This review was published in Nisimazine Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi film festival’s daily bulletin by NISI MASA