Starring: Hisham Fageeh, Fatima Al Banawi, Sami Hifny
Director: Mahmoud Sabbagh
Running Time: 88 mins
Barakah Meets Barakah (بركة يقابل بركة) is a Saudi Arabian film about a man and woman from differing backgrounds who enter into an unlikely romance, but struggle to move forward due to social restrictions and emotional difficulties.
As the modern Saudi Arabian film industry slowly begins to build up steam, we’ll see all manner of new genres and stories coming out of the country. For now though, we have a pleasant, if not rather predictable, romantic comedy that’s certainly an enjoyable watch, but pales in comparison to the few bursts of real drama and passion that come in the film’s social themes, something that really stands out, especially for a film of Saudi Arabian origin.
Before I get into that, however, let’s have a quick talk about how this film works as a romantic comedy, and why it just isn’t quite as memorable as it often aims to be. On the plus side, it’s generally a light, easy-going watch with a good heart, focusing on a relationship between two people from vastly different backgrounds, yet presents them as honest and caring, even if their love is restricted by society around them.
In that, you have a likable lead duo in Hisham Fageeh and Fatima Al Banawi, both of whom strike a strong balance between good humour and the sappier romance stuff, and while the movie certainly doesn’t have the ingenuity or huge emotional power to really grab you, it’s nice to see the relationship of the two unfold, even when things don’t go quite so well.
On the other hand, Barakah Meets Barakah is still just a little too simplistic and predictable in its romance plot to really grab your attention, and while it’s a perfectly nice and pleasant watch, there’s just not enough depth for that central romance to prove a genuinely moving story, something that occasionally makes for a rather boring watch as the story goes through the motions of a strong but forbidden love.
The bigger problem with the film, however, comes in the form of its brief but striking moments of outspoken social criticism, which spark far more drama and intrigue in a few seconds than the romantic comedy story does through the entire film.
Above all, it’s impressive to see such an outspoken and frank film from Saudi Arabia of all places, and although the film is not directly critical of national establishments, it occasionally launches a scathing attack on the changes in Saudi society over the last half century, and how things haven’t developed in the country the way that many feel they are deserving of.
With a riveting theme that focuses on the generation gap too, Barakah Meets Barakah does actually have the depth and ingenuity to prove a really powerful watch, but it unfortunately delivers that in short bursts that don’t spread across the whole film.
It’s a disappointing thing to see, and although the rest of the film is a rather pleasant watch, the fact that you have moments of such genuinely stunning drama and emotion appear for a fleeting moment completely overshadows the rest of the film, making the romance story unfortunately feel all the more underwhelming, and that’s why I’m giving Barakah Meets Barakah a 7.1 overall.