Anchored by a fiercely intense lead perf from Rachida Brakni as an ER doctor searching for her kidnapped journo husband in war-torn 1990s Algeria, “Barakat!” is an absorbing look at a woman whose inner determination is matched only by the unrest around her. Sure to be popular on the fest circuit, particularly those spotlighting distaff helmers, this first dramatic feature from documaker Djamila Sahraoui could also gain some arthouse ground and garner tube sales.
While preparing dinner one evening in anticipation of husband Mourad’s arrival, medico Amel (Brakni) is called to perform an emergency appendectomy on a young boy, but must first defy his skeptical father and drive the child through roadblocks to the hospital.
Once back home, her husband is nowhere to be found. Told he’s been abducted by fundamentalists for an article he’s written, Amel embarks by car to the remote mountain village where she’s been told he’s being kept. Along for the ride is feisty nurse Khadidja (Fettouma Bouamari), a veteran of the Algerian War of Independence who regales Amel with tips and tricks learned during the fighting.
Last seen in the Berlin episode of Hannes Stoehr’s “One Day in Europe,” Brakni is the resolute center of the film. Her tangible chemistry with Boumari’s Khadidja renders the leisurely pace edgy enough to hold interest.
Tech package is solid on some tough-looking locations. Per the helmer, story was inspired by heroic deeds of women who broke off their studies to join the resistance as untrained nurses during the War of Independence.
Spoken by an old man who has joined the search for Mourad, “Barakat!” translates to “Enough!”