Directed by Haifaa Al Mansour
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This surprising near-comedy from Saudi Arabia so easily could have been “cute beyond endurance” or “worthy to a fault,” said Anthony Lane in The New Yorker. Set in a country where women are barred from driving, Wadjda—the first full-length film made by a Saudi woman—tells the story of a 10-year-old girl who wants nothing more than to buy a bicycle and race the boy next door. But writer-director Haifaa Al Mansour is too smart to preach or sentimentalize; “from the start, the film is focused on particulars.” Wadjda’s taste for black Converse All-Stars sets the tone, said Alan Scherstuhl in The Village Voice. And when she tries to raise cash for her rebellious purchase by entering a Quran-reciting contest, “the irony is delicious.” Waad Mohammed, in the title role, “strikes the perfect balance between cheek and impudence,” said Robbie Collin in The Daily Telegraph (U.K.). She’s able with a mere glance to convey “an acute sense of the everyday frustrations that Saudi women have to shoulder.” Wadjda is boundary-pushing with a light touch, “and what a thrill it is to hear those boundaries creak.”
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