This evening we watched La graine et le mulet , a French film (2007) directed by Abdellatif Kechiche (thanks to Béatrice O, who loaned us the DVD). Set in Sète, the film documents the life and times of sixty-something divorcee Monsieur Beiji, who loses his shipyard job and is determined to do his own thing by using his unemployment benefit to set up a dockside couscous restaurant on an old converted ship. He is helped to realise his dream by Rym, the daughter of his lover, a hotel owner, but he also needs the couscous-making skills of his former wife and the support of all of his children and in-laws. The actress playing Rym, Hafsia Herzi, turns in a brilliantly sultry performance and the scenes of couscous preparation – a sort of Algerian version of Babette’s Feast – are wonderfully realistic. The film is far too long (two-and-a-half hours) and its ending unsatisfactory, but the portrait of the simultaneous claustrophobia and solidarity of a close-knit immigrant community is compellingly and touchingly authentic.