Movie Review: Wadjda [2013] - Oscar Watch

Wadjda is Saudi Arabian submission on Oscars. This country is competing for the first time ever. And frankly speaking, this is quite impressive start, that might result in first nomination.

Wadjda is a school girl who has a dream of driving a bike, which is mostly considered to be a "boys' thing" in her community. That's why she is the only one standing for her dream, without even a little support of family. To collect 800 riyals (price of bike), she decides to compete in Quran competition to win 1000 riyals. Starting from zero and despite all complications, she beats every school girl.

This movie is about many many things. But mostly how big a dream can come and how those inhuman traditions shape persons, narrow their minds and how some of them still are sparkle of light in "darkness". Plot mostly concentrates on Wadjda, but it still exposes bad habits and traditions of Arabian society - problems in family, outside family and at schools. But those supporting stories are quietly playing behind this little girl's strive for dreams. 

Wadjda is a quiet type movie. It does not have big emotional culminations or some plot twists. It goes very slowly from the beginning to the end as pale as landscapes of Saudi Arabia. However it's still good movie to watch - its simplicity, clarity and sincerity makes quite enjoyable film experience. Unlike most movies produced in Islam countries, Wadjda does not bring any criticism of religion or traditions or anything else. It just tells a story leaving everything open to judgement.

For the record, director Haifaa Al-Mansour is a first female director in Saudi Arabian and is considered one of the most prolific movie makers in the Kingdom. She truly did a great job illustrating Arabic reality in a very small and personal story of young girl. Haifaa also wrote story herself. Screenplay is quite good, without any major plot holes or fails.

Wadja in Converses - symbol of her
inner incompatibility  with traditions
Oscar chances? Pretty good for many reasons. First of all, it's a good cinematic piece. Secondly, it's directed by a woman from Islamic country. Third, it's is first submission by Saudi Arabia. Fourth, it is quite charming and easy to understand story, which can reach to very bottom of every hart. And finally, it gets quite successful PR company by producers and director herself. However, this is not something outstanding Academy is generally seeking in foreign language films. Considering a great foreign film year, it still can face troubles. Most likely, it would not go further than shortlist.

See my predictions for Foreign Language Film

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