The best thing, worst thing, and main thing about the Saudi Arabian film “Wadjda” in about the time it takes to watch the trailer. Don’t forget to guess the “best ever” question and leave your own! Thanks!
Every year there is at least one movie most critics fawn over that I just don’t get. Welcome to 2013s main contender.
“Wadjda” is a saudi arabian film that follows that story of a young arab girl and her struggle to understand religion, tradition, and how it relates to the truth she sees around her as a young female in the arabic culture. Certainly some weighty issues that could be lurking in there ready to be explored, right? So why does the whole thing feel so light and fluffy? And is that necessarily a bad thing?
Now let me say right up front, there is a lot to like here. Most prominently, and the best thing, has to be this honest and heartfelt look into a culture that most of us remain unaware and uninitiated to. It was refreshing to see an inside look from a young girl’s perspective on a culture that is often in the news for its treatment of women. The movie does a great job at allowing us into this place to see the inconsistencies and flaws while at the same time refusing to just launch grenades. It really is a touching look into this very real society and culture and how tradition and truth can be at odds. It bears mentioning that this movie is also the first shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and not only that but by a Saudi Arabian woman. And maybe this is part of why critics are praising it so deeply, but let’s step beyond what surrounds the movie and look at the execution of the movie itself.
It’s only so-so. Now don’t get me wrong, the girl who plays the lead is sweet and charming and carries a real sense of joy, but she and the other actors around her just aren’t all that good. In fact, there are a couple of times the scenes feel like actors reading lines rather than a look into a real world. But the worst thing is that the story is so basic and simple. It’s hard to care about these stakes when there really don’t seem to be any. That may seem silly to say when you are dealing with a movie about the saudi arabian female experience directed by a woman, but again remember, we are just talking about the movie itself, not what surrounds it, and the movie itself is a rather simplistic story with not much going on, and maybe there doesn’t have to be. Maybe, for many, the story in the movie is secondary to the story behind the movie, and I guess I can understand that as well.
As I see it “Wadjda” is an important movie with an incredibly honest look into a culture often hidden from view. I just wish the power of the subject matter was matched in the quality of the film. I think it levels off somewhere around a B-.
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