Review: ‘Village of Women’

A pleasing if almost bizarrely lightweight look at a harrowing period in Algerian history, "Village of Women" depicts a rural town's improving shift toward matriarchical rule when the menfolk are occupied by either work or warfare.

A pleasing if almost bizarrely lightweight look at a harrowing period in Algerian history, “Village of Women” depicts a rural town’s improving shift toward matriarchical rule when the menfolk are occupied by either work or warfare. Veteran thesp and helmer Mohamed Chouikh’s loosely structured ensembler has fun turning the tables on male supremacy, though there’s not much narrative spine holdings things together. Arab and women’s fests should take note.

Beautiful but grim young Sabrina (Sofia Nouacer) is the nominal heroine. Having seen her parents and sister killed by marauders, she’s now vengefully well-suited to defend the village from the terrorists crawling through area hills during the early ’90s struggle between insurgents and government. Arming the womenfolk for this purpose has been a last resort of husbands forced to leave for factory jobs several dangerous hours away. But their wives and daughters find the experience at least as liberating as it is perilous. Birth, death, teenage love, a rebel’s chastened return home and even romantic interest for Sabrina dot an anecdotal progress stronger on character comedy than conveying danger. Design contribs are vibrantly colorful.

Village of Women

Algeria

Production

An ACIMA Films production in association with ENTV. Produced by Albert Pigot. Directed, written by Mohamed Chouikh.

Crew

Camera (color), Allel Yahiaoui; editor, Yamina Bachir Chouikh; music, Khaled Barkat. Reviewed at San Francisco Arab Film Festival, Sept. 24, 2005. Running time: 98 MIN.

With

Sofia Nouacer, Khaled Benaissa, Bahia Rachedi, Nawal Zaatar, Khadri Seghir, Aida Guechoud, Said Hilmi, Abidi Dalila, Salima Labidi, Amine Chouikh, Amina Ouznadji, Lynda Sellam, Yasmine Chouikh, Selhani Mounia, Rahim Cherif.
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