Their Favourite Film – Kelly Ann Buckley

By Christopher Roberts

“I love this film for its authenticity, the charm of the characters and the languid script, which is delivered so naturally by a cast of fantastic performers, that you’d think the acting was entirely improvised.”

Kelly Ann Buckley

Hello readers, welcome to the latest edition of “Their Favourite Film”. We’re back with another article featuring a talented individual from the Essex film Community. This time we have Kelly Ann Buckley – a music composer and sound designer. Kelly (also known by her artist name ‘K-A-B’) is based in Southend and has worked on numerous projects showcasing her creativity and ear for music & sound, such as Freybug, Where’s Danny?, and the pilot episode for Deep Undercover, which premiered at the prestigious ‘Cannes Film Festival’. It’s worth mentioning that before her career in music, Kelly worked as a journalist for various publications, making her far more suited than I am for this blog, as you’ll soon discover when she delves deep into her favourite film.

The Secret Life of the Grain (2007)

Favourite film…?  I find this such a tough question… It’s tough to choose just one of them, isn’t it?  I would say I have three favourite films: Betty Blue, Withnail and I, True Romance and Couscous. (There are more, but I will stop there!)

Couscous, or La Graine et le Mulet  as it’s titled in France (a title I prefer), is a Tunisian-French film set in Sete. Couscous is the film I have chosen to review as I think it’s the lesser known of my other choices and, in my opinion, deserves some extra spotlight.

If you’re all about high drama and action when it comes to your film choices, this one may not be for you.  It’s more a little slice of life, a vignette if you will, based on situations and circumstances that most ordinary folk will be able to relate to in one way or another; it covers the complexities and warmth of family life, hard work, class and cultural struggles and dreams of bettering oneself from the ground up.  

I love this film for its authenticity, the charm of the characters and the languid script, which is delivered so naturally by a cast of fantastic performers, that you’d think the acting was entirely improvised. As far as I know, it wasn’t.  The camera shots are mostly incredibly intimate, and although there’s nothing voyeuristic about the filming, a sense of sincerity is certainly portrayed via these close-ups.  An unusual amount of room is left for humdrum, such as discussing potty training, but it doesn’t bore; more draws the viewer into the scene as if a quiet, unnoticed guest sitting at the table. 

The table or the delicious couscous and mullet meals served upon it by protagonist ‘Slimane’s’ ex-wife ‘Souad’, is where much of the family’s feel is baked.

The French Poster La Graine Et Mulet (2007)

‘Slimane’, a 60-year-old North African immigrant who works on the boats at a dockyard, gets the news he is being let go from a job role he has dutifully carried out for years.

With his severance pay, he decides to start something new, which ruffles the feathers of his girlfriend ‘Latifa’, with whom he lives, because ‘Slimane’ largely relies on his ex-wife’s talent to get his new venture off the ground.

Another reason for loving this film is the way it shows the strength of women in the family, who rally around, come together and make everything happen, even the adversaries amongst them, despite some of the men’s shortcomings.  

A stand-out performance by one of these women was by the brilliant Hasfia Herzi, who plays ‘Latifa’s’ daughter ‘Rym’. ‘Slimane’s’ kindness and lovable personality are emphasised by ‘Rym’s’ obvious fondness for the man she sees as her stepfather. Not to give away any spoilers, but ‘Rym’s’ perseverance and devotion, displayed throughout the film as she becomes ‘Slimane’s’ unstoppable right-hand-woman, reaches a crescendo during a particular sizzling performance.  

Couscous, for me, is a beautiful film I thoroughly recommend. 

As Kelly mentioned in the beginning, if you like high drama and action, this is not your sort of film. And I’ll be honest, I fit in that category. I very much go for some mindless action film with Jason Statham, over a  Tusc French art-house movie about a man who wants to open a restaurant serving food I never heard of before. However, this blog isn’t just about watching films I enjoy; it’s about stepping out of my comfort zone and exploring movies I wouldn’t have considered before. After all, there’s only so much one can watch “Jason Statham play the tough guy” before craving something different.

Once again, venturing outside my cinematic comfort zone proved worthwhile. Kelly has already eloquently outlined why this film is a must-watch – its intimate cinematography, realistic dialogue, and portrayal of everyday lives provide a unique viewing experience akin to a documentary rather than a traditional film. The picturesque shots of the Mediterranean port of Sète further distinguish it as a cinematic gem.

What truly captivated me was the character ‘Slimane Beiji’ and his relatable journey. I resonated with ‘Slimane’s’ story—the struggle to earn an honest living, facing setbacks, and the unwavering determination to pursue a dream. ‘Slimane’, despite lacking experience and influential connections, decides to open a restaurant selling Couscous after being fired. His journey unfolds with various challenges and sceptics questioning his choices, but he presses on, buoyed by the unwavering support of his family, especially his girlfriend’s daughter, his staunchest advocate. Without her, he may not have been able to reach so far.   

Hasfia Herzi as ‘Rym’

This film serves as a reminder that pursuing one’s dreams is never impossible. ‘Slimane’s’ ambition to open a restaurant mirrored my aspiration for a full-time career in the film industry. Like him (and I’m so many readers of this blog), I face hurdles with every step I take toward my goal and have feelings of self-doubt if I’m ever going to get there. But this film reminded me of the importance of surrounding oneself with supportive friends and family and emphasised; that age should never be a deterrent to chasing dreams. As Lewis Carroll wisely said, “In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.”

While the film doesn’t explicitly reveal whether ‘Slimane’ achieves his dream, the real value lies in the journey itself. Watching a character take the bold step towards their dream is inspiring and serves as a lesson for those hesitant to embark on their own journeys.

Despite not being my typical film choice, the combination of compelling cinematography, stellar performances, well-crafted dialogue, and its poignant message about hope and family, whether blood-related or symbolic, compels me to recommend it highly, especially to those seeking a break from a Jason Statham film and an opportunity to experience something a little different.

Kelly Buckley

‘K-A-B’ is the artist moniker for Kelly Ann Buckley, a UK media composer, sound designer, audio producer/mixer, journalist and digital artist. She also has a sync licensing catalogue as well as taking on commissions to make music for multi-media. See more at K-A-B.NET or get in touch with her at’.

Chris Roberts

Christopher Roberts is an up-and-coming writer and self-proclaimed film trivia expert, born and raised in Southend on Sea. Since Graduating with a BA in Television Production and Screen Media at the University of Essex, he has continued his passion for TV and film by working on several projects as a Production Assistant and Boom Mic Operator across Essex. Chris is now involved with Movie Picture Box as a Co-Writer for their upcoming horror film Black Barrels and is in the early stages of developing his first TV pilot, Living with Death.

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