BARAKAH MEETS BARAKAH (Barakah Yoqabil Barakah)
SPEC D: Mahmoud Sabbagh. Saudi Arabia. 88 min. Sep 16, 6:45 pm, Elgin Sep 17, 12:30 pm, Isabel Bader Sep 18, 9:45 pm, Isabel Bader. Rating: NNNN
This misfit Saudi Arabian rom-com makes light of how frustrating the dating scene can be in a country where women are restricted in their interactions with men.
Hisham Fageeh plays soft-spoken and kind-hearted public servant Barakah, who dutifully observes Islamic law until he gets bowled over by Fatima Al Banawi’s live-wire Bibi. She’s an Instagram star who expects real romance – none of that first of seven wives stuff – leaving Barakah to spend much of the movie figuring out how to take her on a first date.
The film is critical of oppressive customs and even a bit tragic, but it’s also joyful, investing its hopes in characters representing a new generation that is too fun and sassy to be ignored.