18 May 2021

Film review: Wadjda (2012) by Reem Abdullah, *****


Synopsys

A rebellious Saudi Arabian girl hatches a plan to get her hands on the bicycle she craves in this coming-of-age story from first time director Haifaa Al-Mansour. 

Living within a conservative suburb of Riyadh, fun-loving eleven-year-old Wadjda (Waad Mohammed) has her heart set on a green bicycle so that she can beat the boys in their neighbourhood races. 

But when her mother (Reem Abdullah) forbids it, anticipating a reaction from a society that disapproves of women riding bicycles, an enterprising Wadjda decides to raise the money herself by entering a local Qur'an-reading competition that offers a cash prize.



Review

A most interesting if limited peek into Saudi society and especially the position of women. It is pretty incredible the Saudi female director managed to complete filming on location, not everyone was happy with it... Not surprising as movie theaters were not allowed in Saudi Arabia, either, between 1983 and 2018. 

I knew women were not allowed to drive (they now are) but was shocked to learn they were not supposed to ride bicycles. Or touch the Koran when they have their period! 

In the end this movie is about how a little girl wants to have a happy life, she knows nothing about politics and only understand religion inasmuch as they have her memorize verses. A hopeful note of optimism for Saudi Arabia. 


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