Wadjda (6/10)



Wadjda is a 10-year-old girl living in a suburb of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Although she lives in a conservative world, Wadjda is fun loving, entrepreneurial and always pushing the boundaries of what she can get away with. After a fight with her friend Abdullah, a neighborhood boy she shouldn't be playing with, Wadjda sees a beautiful green bicycle for sale. She wants the bicycle desperately so that she can beat Abdullah in a race. But Wadjda's mother won't allow it, fearing repercussions from a society that sees bicycles as dangerous to a girl's virtue. So Wadjda decides to try and raise the money herself...

Title Wadjda
Director of Photography Lutz Reitemeier
Runtime 1 h 38 min
Certification PG
Release Date 31 August 2012
IMDb Id tt2258858

Hmmm. I should like this movie more than I do. But I don’t.

A movie received with much critical acclaim, winning a raft of awards, and e.g. a rotten tomatoes score of 99%, sounds very promising indeed.

But those are all against a background of this movie being from Saudi Arabia, and then the recognition is probably fair enough: it is a place where women have very restricted rights and cinemas are banned altogether, so for a female Saudi director to make the first ever feature length movie completely in Saudi Arabia, and about women’s lives in Saudi Arabia, is not a minor feat.

It is a cute and light story with very good acting from Waad Mohammed as 10-year old Wadjda. Under the surface of that light story, it is a Saudi cry for female rights through the eyes of a young girl’s dreams and adventures.

Watching it as a movie it is a bit unrewarding. Watching it more as a dramatized documentary on the lives of women in Saudi Arabia it is very interesting, and rather depressing as well. It left me fairly grumpy in the end in any case.


  • Does it have a hook? Not really.
  • Is it entertaining? Not really. There are plenty of smiles and a few laughs along the way, but the real story here is fairly depressing…
  • Should you watch it? Only if you go into it to get a better insight into lives of girls and women in Saudi Arabia – then it hits the spot.



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