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Stereotypes about the Middle East are everywhere in the West these days, so it’s always a joy when someone decides to give us a fresh perspective. Think of Mideastern women, and the first image we’re inclined to think of is a chador or burqa, the female forced to cover her hair, her limbs, perhaps even her face, by a male-dominated society.

Director Nadine Labaki’s “Caramel,” a Lebanese chick flick, glances at that image and brushes right by it, with chin held high and teased hair flowing, leaving behind an afterburn of rosewater and pheromones. Appropriately enough, this portrait of modern, more or less liberated Lebanese women, is set in a beauty salon.

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