Husband-and-wife team Zakia Tahiri (helmer-scripter) and Ahmed Bouchaala (producer) join forces on the broad feminist comedy “Number One.” Though resembling a pro-suffragette laffer from years gone by, in which magic powder turns an unreconstructed chauvinist into a women’s libber, the pic has charm and a playful way with language that will appeal to auds looking to see a shake-up in populist Arab notions of equality. Despite cartoonish characterizations, the feel-good vibe should do well with targeted populations — a limited June release in southern France precedes a broader September run.
Factory manager Aziz (Aziz Saadallah) treats wife Soraya (Faouzi Bensaidi regular Nezha Rahil) with even more contempt than his distaff workers. When French businesswoman Jacqueline Morel (Chantal Ladesou) arrives to get bids on an order, Aziz reluctantly brings Soraya along to entertain, turning apoplectic when she flowers in the company of a liberated woman. Sickened by her husband’s abuse, Soraya feeds him a potion, and suddenly he becomes an attentive spouse and caring boss. The change is amusing, but his previous horrible treatment of women makes it difficult to overcome resistance to the man. Images are clean and bright.