RachidaOne of the most tedious aspects of relocating to a new city is the first weekend: unsure of my bearings and locked out of my office, it was to be 48 hours of abject procrastination and wandering.

Thus, armed with as many DVDs as possible, I settled down for a humidity busting break with my new friend the power-fan and the trusty laptop that groaned like a tractor, but pulled through like a trooper.

While the first of the DVDs, Dieu est grand, je suis toute petite [God is Great, I am Not] (2002) was a delightfully frothy and irreverent look at the flippancy with which one can approach faith, Rachida (2002) proved an altogether more poignant affair.

Opening in Algiers in the 1990s, Rachida [Ibtissem Djouadi] is a school teacher who lives with her divorced mother and is contentedly engaged.

On her way to school one morning she is accosted by a gaggle of youths – one of whom is a former pupil – who demand that she take a bomb in a satchel into the school.

Naturally, she refuses and in the midst of the morning market she is shot in the stomach.

Once she awakens she is taken to recuperate in the mountain village in which her colleague has a villa.

As she struggles to readjust to life after the trauma, she is constantly beset by reminders as gunmen run through the village wantonly terrorising the residents and establishing impromptu road blocks.

The climax comes at a wedding and the tragic events that unfold emphasize the pervasiveness of civil war: no where is safe, and noone truly recovers.

As one kid peddling cigarettes wryly observes, “only nightmares are free in this country”.

And after watching Rachida, it was nightmares that I had; there is no gore nor blasts – just the malice of humankind and the constant ominous threat.

For this reason the film was incredible; the closing scene haunts long after the credits role, if not only for Djouadi’s profound performance.

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This entry was posted on July 6, 2009 by in Africa, Conflict Zones, Pop culture, Reviews and tagged , , , , , .
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