Quick Take: Wadjda (2013)

wadjdaNo modern movie has a better backstory than Saudi Arabia’s Wadjda. Not only does it come from a country without movie theaters, but it was made by a woman, Haifaa Al-Monsour, who had to direct from the inside of a van using walkie-talkies, because women aren’t allowed to give directions to men in Saudi Arabia. Despite all this, Wadjda is a profound statement of feminism, and managed to impress the Saudi powers-that-be enough to become Saudi Arabia’s first ever official submission to the Academy for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar last year. Regardless of the movie’s quality, Wadjda is an achievement. While the effects of the adversity are present in some scenes with stilted acting (I assume due to utility of time) or that could have used sharper editing scissors, Wadjda soars on the back of its lead actress and a simple story. Waad Mohammed is a revelation as the titular young girl who longs for the freedom to ride her own bike, an act that is frowned upon for girls, since it apparently compromises their “virtue”. (Yep.) The story is balanced in a way that allows for Wadjda’s struggle to be specific to her, but, in the end, especially in the beautiful last shot, the story is able to stand for Saudi women and women oppressed anywhere.

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