What happens when a cheerful Swiss guy falls for a smoky-eyed Lebanese girl and follows her to Beirut? In ‘Yanoosak' (roughly, ‘You're so cute'), certainly not happily ever after. Rather, Rudi (Siegfried Terpoorten) is unceremoniously dumped for a rich businessman, but falls in love with Beirut and opens a pizza parlour, co-staffed by straight-talking Mona (Zeina Daccache) and a couple of obstreperous delivery boys.
As Rudi explores, those familiar with Gemmayzeh's mini-skirted, vodka-swilling beauties will sympathise with this hapless traveller in a modern Oriental wilderness. Proceeding as would any red-blooded European, he is confronted by a panoply of moral standards, often surprising, sometimes shocking, but always funny. A raft of neurotic and bizarre sexual escapades result, inviting both hilarity and cringing recognition. A loving and colourful portrait of Beirut, with upbeat original music by Zeid Hamdan, ‘Yanoosak' isn't pretending Beirut is perfect - a lecherous taxi driver and some wrong-headed policemen will be horribly familiar to many - but even if the road is sometimes rocky, we're sure as hell going to enjoy ourselves along the way. And while the viability of the central love interest is derisory - there's no indication that Beirut will be any kinder to the characters once they've got together than it was before - somehow, you're rooting for them all the same.
Written by Ellen Hardy // Time Out Beirut