2012 | Drama | 98 minutes | Arabic with English titles
This is a funny, romantic drama about Wadjda, a spirited 10 year-old Saudi girl living in the capital city of Riyadh. Her dream is to buy bicycle so she can race against her neighborhood friend Abdullah. Her mother opposes the idea as young girls riding bikes is against Saudi culture. Wadjda is determined but she must raise the money to make the purchase. She starts by selling mixtapes and hand-braiding bracelets to sell to classmates. At school, Wadjda decides to participate in a Koran recital competition. Her memorization of passages from the Koran impresses her teacher and she wins. Wadjda shocks the school staff and fellow students when she announces she will use the prize money to buy a bicycle. The headmistress immediately informs Wadjda the money will be used to support the Palestinian refugees. When Wadjda returns home she is devastated to hear her father is leaving the family to marry a second wife. Wadjda tries to console her mother suggesting that if she buys a beautiful red dress it may convince her father to return. Instead, her mother tells Wadjda that she used the money to buy the bicycle. An elated Wadjda takes her bike to race against Abdullah. She wins!
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 99%
- Metacritic Score: 81
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards: Winner, Best Foreign Language Film
Los Angeles Film Festival: Winner, Best International Feature Film
Venice Film Festival: Winner, Best Film
Palm Springs International Film Festival: Winner, Best Director (Haifaa Al-Mansour)
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Critics and the public will likely agree that the film transcends mere surprise and delivers a winning, handsomely crafted story with a charismatic lead guaranteed to charm international audiences.
With impressive agility, WADJDA finds room to maneuver between harsh realism and a more hopeful kind of storytelling. There is warmth as well as austerity in Wadjda’s world, kindness as well as cruelty, and the possibility, modestly sketched and ardently desired, of change.
We kick off the 10 Best Films of 2013 with WADJDA—a funny, romantic drama about a Riyadh girl’s quest to buy a bicycle. The film’s nomination as Saudi Arabia’s Oscar contender is an implicit nod of approval from the country’s mainstream.
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