Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Wadjda Review

There is nothing flashy about the film Wadjda, a simple story told in a simple fashion, a premise that to some may sound silly and uninteresting if the setting or the circumstances faced by the characters aren't taken into account. A young girl living in Saudi Arabia is being raised in a world that holds her gender to a set of strict, conservative rules, but she clearly wants more out of life than what is expected of her. One day she spots an item that she wants more than anything in the world, something shiny and beautiful and perfect: a brand new green bicycle. 

What the bicycle symbolizes is more important to the narrative than the item itself. In her culture, it is believed that a girl should never ride a bicycle as they have deemed it dangerous to a girl's virtue, thus when she expresses her desire to save money and purchase it, it elicits reactions of shock and anger. Despite the tensions and the potential repercussions, Wadjda has a goal in sight and she will not waiver in her pursuit of it.

More powerful than the film itself is what the entire production and existence of Wadjda represents. The first film ever to be filmed entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first film from that country to be directed by a woman, not to mention the story being told that seems so innocent from my perspective but given the statement it is making about the treatment of women and the freedom that they are not allowed to obtain, I would imagine this story of a ten year old girl dreaming of something more is seen as pretty controversial to many. I admire Wadjda so much for the walls that I could feel shattering around the movie as I viewed it, as the progression of humanity and the closer the world gets to equal rights is far more heartwarming than the film itself.

That isn't to say Wadjda is lacking heart in any sort of way, it isn't. It's a film full of warmth and soul and it's very easy to connect with this young girl and her plight emotionally, but when taken on face value it is merely a very nice, well made movie that doesn't break any new ground in a technical filmmaking sense.

The entire time I watched it, I could see the whole picture, not just what was in the frame. Seeing it that way is a pretty remarkable experience.


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