Wadjda – Film Review

An enterprising Saudi girl signs on for her school’s Koran recitation competition as a way to raise the remaining funds she needs in order to buy the green bicycle that has captured her interest.  –IMDb

I first heard about this film through Girls’ Globe, a site dedicated to raising awareness and educating others on global issues about the rights, health, and empowerment of women and girls.

Wadjda is the first feature fully filmed in Saudi Arabia. Haifaa Al-Mansour is the first woman from Saudi Arabia to direct a feature film. This was not an easy task. Women are not supposed to work with men in public. Haifaa directed all exterior scenes from the inside of a van. She watched the actors on monitors and communicated with them via walkie-talkie. Nonetheless, she received government approval to complete the film in the country. Although cinemas are not permitted in the country, audiences can see the film on television.

Wadjda is one of my favorite films this year. The film is thought provoking. It carries a heartfelt message about what it means to grow up as a woman in a country where women have plenty of restrictions. For example, women in the kingdom are not allowed to drive. Wadjda wishes for a bike, but she’s constantly told that girls “should not drive bikes.” The notion of a giving a girl a bike is frown upon by society. “You will not be able to have children,” her mom tells her when Wadjda persists on getting a bike. It’s a beautiful metaphor about a girl’s pursue for agency in her society, to make her own destiny, and find her voice.

It features great actors. Waad Mohammed plays Wadjda, a ten years old girl living with her mother in a middle class suburb. Waad Mohammed and Reem Abdullah (Wadjda’s mother) deliver a wonderful performance. The moments between mother and daughter are sweet and transcend all cultural differences.

This film depicts the life of men and women under the politics and spaces given to them in their society. Wadjda’s mother is devoted to her husband, yet her movements are restricted to what’s expected of her as a married woman. She fears that she will lose her husband due to her invalidity to give him a son. Wadjda’s school plays a big role in enforcing gender restrictions, where a strict principal sets the rules and expectations how girls should behave.

Wadjda is now playing in selected theaters. I urge everyone to go and see this film. You will not be disappointed.

And no, this is not a “girl’s movie.” It’s a film about women’s issues, which happens to have a female lead. Please, do not feed on this idea that films about women (or female leads) are only for female viewers…  Plus, women watch plenty of superhero films. Go watch Wadjda. It’s a wonderful film

Also read: Dana Stevens’ Review

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Oscar Buzz 2013: Argo

(Possible Spoilers)

Argo is an adaptation/dramatization of the 1980 CIA extraction of six American diplomatic personal from revolutionary Iran. Clinton administration released information about the project during the Clinton administration.

Ben Affleck directs and plays the lead role of Tony Mendez, the CIA agent in charge of the operation. The film made $19,458,109 (USA) on opening night. It has a 94% audience rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website. Ben Affleck did a fantastic job directing this film. There was a sense of suspense, which is what you would expect from a thriller film.

The moment Tony (Affleck) arrives in Iran, he keeps finding bodies hanging from bridges and polls all over the city. It becomes clear to the audience this might be a foreshadow of Tony’s death. The bodies are event dressed as Tony. These subliminal messages of death kept me fidgeting throughout the duration of the film.

The end of the film was good. There is a complicated chase. Although the ending works for the story, I’m not sure if it is necessary for the audience’s entertainment. I don’t know why it made me feel a little uncomfortable.

Nonetheless, Affleck’s acting is good. He did a good job as Tony Mendez. This is a fresh and interesting look for him. He did a fantastic job directing film. There’s no doubt this film has Oscar Buzz all over it.


This film is rated R.



A Post-Grad Life Moment

This weekend I spent it watching romantic comedies. Mainly, I pondered about my future and my unhappy state of mind. I watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Princess Bride, and 50 First Dates denying my loveless love life. Although, I find myself enjoying the stories of the people on the screen, dreaming that maybe one day I could get to experience something similar. (Note: I’m talking about loving someone that way and being loved the same way in returned.)

The magic of cinema is to paint a whole new world for us, good or bad. I retreat into the film world when life is too overwhelming, which is often. Life after college ain’t easy. It means an entry-level job (which you are probably overqualified for), school loans (for many), and trying to figure out what to do with your life. I took the chance at liberal arts. Thus, even though I learned plenty, the harsh reality is that it makes life difficult in our current economic period.

I reached for the DVD shelf searching rescue.

I tried to find some consolation, but did not find any. How can these characters afford these lovely apartments in the city, while still holding below average jobs? How do they suddenly bump into the love of their live? A college friend and I shared the same question. Do movies/film set up unrealistic expectations for college grads? I do not know the answer to this question.

Nonetheless, films/movies have not entirely failed us. I enjoy every moment of Pretty Woman. I mean, the fairytale story of a hooker was never this realistic (sarcasm). When times are hard, we want to hold on to hopes and dreams. Maybe escape for a while and enjoy a cup of tea. Did I imagine four years ago that I would be in this place? Yes, I admit that I imagined some of it.

My Wonder Woman obsession was not enough to lift me up from the weekend’s mood. The Wonder Woman in me needed a break too, so she ditched all her principles, and spent the day in bed, watching romantic comedies for comfort. Hey, Wonder Woman can take a day off!

Note: If you are a post grad do not underestimate your potential. The best weapon to success is persistence and passion. While this passion might take long to find for some, do not be discouraged. You might have heard that all beginnings are hard, and this is true.