Flash Movie Review: Wadjda
In a child’s life there is a short span of time that heralds a final hurrah to their innocent youth. It takes place just before the child begins to understand the rules and customs of their culture and government. My memory of that time is still clear in my mind. It happened in 7th grade when my best friend and I were going out after dinner. His mother wanted to make sure we would be home before curfew. I had never heard the word “curfew” before and asked my friend about it as we left his house. When he told me there was a city law that made it illegal for people under a certain age to be out after a particular time, I was outraged. As soon as I came home I had to ask my parents about it. I was stunned when they confirmed what my friend’s mother had said to us. From that point on I began to understand there would be rules and regulations outside of my home that I would have to adhere to or face the consequences. Remembering those times made watching this dramatic film all the more amazing to me. From a country that had no movie theaters, where the one and only female director had to do everything from the inside of a van away from her male workers; the fact this movie was even made was somewhat of a miracle. It is the first film to come out of Saudi Arabia. Newcomer Waad Mohammed played 10 year old, hightop sneaker wearing, Wadjda. Wanting to beat her friend Abdullah, played by newcomer Abdullrahman Al Gohani, in a race; Wadjda came up with some creative ways to earn money to buy a bicycle. It did not matter to her that women riding bicycles was frowned upon by everyone around her. This film festival winner and official submission for the 2014 Best Foreign Language Film category of the Academy Awards had a gentle, humorous story. I found it fascinating the way writer/director Haifaa Al-Mansour created what life was like for men and women in Saudi Arabia without being judgmental. In addition, it was curious how this was the first film for many of the actors. The only main character listed as an actress was Ahd (The Imperialists are Still Alive), who played Ms. Hussa. Part of the charm of this film was being exposed to a culture that was so foreign to me. Despite the cultural differences, I could relate to Wadjda’s rebellious streak. Arabic with English subtitles.
3 1/4 stars