Whatever Lola Wants



Marrakech International Film Festival

MARRAKECH, Morocco -- In "Whatever Lola Wants", director Nabil Ayouch gives audiences what they may want -- a heady mix of Western and Oriental in this liberal dose of feet-tapping music and Egyptian belly dancing. Interestingly choreographed by Morocco and Tony Stevens and set to the lilting music of Krishna Levy, the dance numbers of American actress Laura Ramsey, who plays Lola, are sure crowd-pleasers. But beyond the lavishly mounted dance floors, "Whatever Lola Wants" fails to engage.

In this modern-day fairy tale, Lola, a mail delivery worker in New York, is passionate about dancing and bored with her job. Her best friend, Yussef (Achmed Akkabi), lifts her spirits by telling her about the legendary Egyptian belly dancer, Ismahan (Carmen Lebbos), living a life of disgrace in Cairo after an extra-marital affair.

When Lola meets a dashing Egyptian millionaire, Zack (Assaad Bouab), she falls in love with him and has an affair so intense that she blows all her savings to follow him to Cairo. But Zack is terribly traditional, not one to marry someone dreaming of a career in dance. An angry and disappointed Lola turns to her first love. Determined to learn only from Ismahan -- who is reclusive and refuses to have anything to do with Lola, let alone teach her belly dancing -- the young American befriends the dancer's little girl and worms her way into the mother's heart. Lola becomes a sensation under Ismahan's guidance, taking Cairo by storm.

"Whatever Lola Wants" is a breezy Hollywood style movie that falls back on Ramsey's seductive figure and her sensuous belly dancing. Both Ramsey and Lebbos contribute significantly: the first as a bubbly dancer set to get whatever she wants and the second as a woman forced to hide from the world when she gives up dancing.

The 7th Floor/Ali'n Prods./B.C. Films/Pathe Films/Transfilm
Director: Nabil Ayouch
Writers: Nabil Ayouch, Nathalie Saugeon, Jane Hawksley
Producers: Allen Bain, Jake Eberts
Executive producer: Pierre Grunstein
Director of photography: Vincent Mathias
Production designer: Pierre-Francois Limbosch
Music: Krishna Levy
Costume designer: Tom Soluri, Julie Armand
Editor: Herve de Luze
Lola: Laura Ramsey
Ismahan: Carmen Lebbos
Zack: Assaad Bouab
Yussef: Achmed Akkabi
Running time -- 110 minutes
No MPAA rating