11 December 2013 | l_rawjalaurence
An Optimistic Tale of Triumph Over Adversity
WADJDA is a straightforward tale of a young girl Wadjda (Waad Mohammed) growing up in a suburb of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, who wants to buy a bicycle. Unable to find the money to do so, she enters a competition to speak the Koran in public with a substantial cash prize. After considerable time spent studying the text, she wins the competition, but sadly doesn't receive the money. In the end, however, she achieves her dreams - but not in the way she expects. Haifaa Al-Mansour's film is noteworthy for being a woman's film directed by a woman; it shows in careful detail the ways in which women's lives are constructed in Saudi Arabia, as well as showing how influential the Koran is in determining people's behavior. Some viewers might think that the women's lives are unfairly restricted; the film suggests that this is what many women believe is the right thing to do. By doing so, WADJDA shows how different people embraces different concepts of Islam. On the other hand, the film also suggests that individuals - especially children - should have at least some means to express themselves, particularly when they have worked to hard to achieve their aims. To restrict them is also to repress them; and this ultimately leads them to accept subordination as a way of life. WADJDA proves that the opposite should be true; not only for Wadjda herself but also for her mother (Reem Abdullah).