Wadjda Screen 11 articles



Wadjda Poster
  • It's likely and commendable that young girls (or boys) in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere will findWadjda inspiring. But few others should expect much in the way of artful innovation, as Wadjda, with its climactic, scholastic contest, is more Bee Season than Bicycle Thieves. It doesn't play like reality, but like boilerplate filmic fantasy, and its novel setting and inception struggles seem positioned as a beard—or veil, if you will—to mask its mediocrity.

  • [...Wadjda] spends the whole movie rolling her eyes at her mother and blasting her music and wearing what I think might actually be Converse sneakers and generally behaving like your standard tween, which prevents the movie from feeling overly noble and dogmatic even as it piles on the abuses of patriarchy. Nothing special (apart from the circumstances of its making), but I didn't turn it off = mild endorsement.

  • Quite enjoyable under the circumstances, albeit more for the things which emerge naturally than the things which are stated (Mom's hysterical dependence on Dad, in a land where women have no rights, is a lot more chilling than the school and its various strictures), and more when our heroine is trying to fit in - she's too naive to see that it doesn't matter if she plays by the rules, they won't let her win - than when she's rebelling.

  • The film’s bittersweet denouement is genuinely tender. The closing image of Wadjda at a crossroads gives a sense of freedom and hope, and offers solace to conservative and liberal viewers alike. Average Saudis won’t be able to see Wadjda until it’s on satellite broadcast, since theaters and movie parlors were banned there in the 1980s. The full impact of Al Mansour’s considerable accomplishment is yet to come.

  • Plenty of films have similarly colorful production histories and die onscreen, done in by their own well-intentioned didacticism. What setsWadjda apart is Al-Mansour’s confidently light touch (this is one of the most outwardly cheery jeremiads ever made), which allows the uneasy existence between the young protagonist and the stringent society in which she lives to gradually gain in force.

  • What makes the movie so delightful is that Wadjda isn’t trying to make trouble; she’s just being herself. A shot of the system of wire hangers attached to her radio so she can pick up Western music stations sums up her can-do attitude... [The director] shows a delicate touch with this place where small gestures carry great meaning. Al-Mansour has also made a movie that leaves you yearning for another chapter in the adventures of this little girl.

  • What keeps Wadjda from devolving into a sort of heavy-handed cultural show-and-tell is its title character. Played by Waad Mohammed—a newcomer, like most of the cast—she is stubborn, selfish, and a little vindictive. She feels like a real person and, as a result, imbues the film’s most on-the-nose moments—like its climactic Koran reciting competition—with a sense of life and unpredictability.

  • The first female-directed Saudi Arabian film would be culturally significant even if it weren't very good; and though writer-director Haifaa Al-Mansour doesn't break new ground aesthetically (the film's style is one of unforced, albeit unremarkable, naturalism), she relates the experience of a Saudi Arabian girl's coming of age clearly and unsentimentally, which alone makes this a must-see.

  • The narrative of Wadjda is essentially a series of obstacles and clever solutions, the path of an intelligent and resourceful girl who, in the end, finds that she has to rely on the strength of other women, and the possible paths of new traditions, rather than brash iconoclasm. In a way, this mirrors al-Monsour's filmmaking, which borrows liberally from the picaresque realism of Iranian cinema but is not afraid to soften its hard edges in favor of a hopeful humanism.

  • [...Wadjda is] something of an insouciant filmmaking milestone, not simply in terms of its dissection of female status and discrimination, but the courageousness of writer/director Al- Mansour, who operates in the face of incessant adversity and torrents of hate mail. Al-Mansour describes the film’s central premise as one of “hope, embracing change and moving ahead”, messages powerfully apparent by the film’s gracefully poignant conclusion.

  • The layers [Abdullah] reveals of her character’s experience, the amount of stuff she allows us to see (insecurity, judgment, despair, rage, helplessness, gentleness, vanity, sexual anxiety and desire) … it’s fearless, especially considering that the “Saudi woman” is practically non-existent in terms of representation out there in the world of art. Mostly we just see fully-cloaked-and-covered figures. [Like Wadjda's director,] Reem Abdullah is a pioneer, too.

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