Review: Wadjda (2012)

Directed by: Haifaa Al-Mansour | 97 minutes | drama | Actors: Waad Mohammed, Reem Abdullah, Abdullrahman Al Gohani, Ahd, Sultan Al Assaf, Dana Abdullilah, Rehab Ahmed, Rafa Al Sanea, Mohammed Albahry, Mariam Alghamdi, Ali Algorbani, Sara Aljaber, Mohammed Alkhozain

“Wadjda” is the first (full-length) feature film from Saudi Arabia and is also directed by a female director, Haifaa Al-Mansour. The film was previously shown at the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2013 and even won the audience award here. “Wadjda” is about a ten-year-old girl who playfully pushes the boundaries that apply in her conservative environment. Wadjda would like a bicycle to race against her boyfriend; she saw a green bicycle at a shop and she must and will get it. A girl who would like a bicycle is something that we would not consider very special, but in Saudi Arabia it is not appropriate for girls to ride a bicycle. However, Wadjda does not allow herself to be put off by this and does everything in his power to get the green bicycle she dreamed of.

“Wadjda” is a very attractive film, which addresses the unequal position of women in Saudi Arabia in a very accessible way. The stubborn lead actress walks in sneakers, listens to Western music and plays with boys. All these traits make her an outsider and cause her to be regularly criticized by her environment. Her beautiful mother has problems with her father because she is not physically able to give birth to more children and therefore can never make him a son, which puts her at great risk of losing him. The position that Wadjda and her mother have in society and the problems they experience as a result are presented very lightly in this film, but nevertheless manage to make the viewer think and move. Leading actress Waad Mohammed is a feast to watch and plays the Saudi tomboy with gusto.

With “Wadjda”, Haifaa Al-Mansour has made a film that is very entertaining at the same time, but which also makes the viewer think. Very clever how she managed to make a very accessible film about a culture that differs so much from ours. Hats off to this director and hopefully she will be able to make a lot more as a result of this film.

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