Wadjda has received a lot of hype as the first film from a female Saudi director. It’s an amiable film about a young girl who doesn’t conform to the strict order of her society. “Don’t laugh”, she’s told. “Laughter is a woman’s nakedness”. Wadjda (Waad Mohammed) wants to own a bicycle, but girls aren’t supposed to ride bikes, leaving her to cunningly figure out a way to get the most simple childhood possession. The young actress is played with a wily courage. Occasionally things feel didactic and cumbersome but it’s an uplifting and good-hearted story which brings emotion out of the most simple idea. It’s certainly a worthwhile film which seems so unambitious but given its cultural context, it’s really nothing of the sort.
Review by David Rank
Wadjda is out now in the UK. Running time 98 mins. Certificate PG (UK).