Wadjda Blu-ray Review

    Actors: Waad Mohammed, Reem Abdullah, Abdullrahman Al Gohani
  • Director: Haifaa Al-Mansour
  • Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Arabic
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG 
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: February 11, 2014
  • Run Time: 97 minutes


            Even in Hollywood it is rare that a female director sees the same success as male competition, with only a few names as exception. If you were to remove the nepotistic connections which make this possible, even fewer female filmmakers would be standing, and so the production of Wadjda would seem a small miracle in any country. The fact that it was the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia is impressive enough, but that the project was driven by a female director with a message that challenges the male-dominated ways of life is more than a small miracle. Wadjda is a spectacular film exceeded only in the impressiveness of the story behind the production, with director Haifaa Al Mansour unable to interact directly with the male crew or be present during the filming of the street sequences.


            Aptly titled, Wadjda follows the title character played by newcomer Waad Mohammed as she navigates through the strict rules of society that limit her for being the weaker sex. While her mother (popular Saudi television star, Reem Abdullah) struggles to convince Wadjda’s father to choose her for marriage over more respectable choices, Wadjda becomes determined to save enough money to buy a bike. This may seem a small task, but besides the high price of the toy it is seen as improper for girls to ride bikes. Already seen as something of a rebel for the sneakers she wears and a variety of pop culture influences, Wadjda challenges traditional women’s roles in society with her innocent childlike desires.


            With no way to quickly earn the money, Wadjda sees an opportunity in her school’s annual Koran competition. Having previously expressed little to no interest in religion, she suddenly finds the motivation to become the most dedicated student. Wadjda is heartwarming without falling into manipulative melodramatic territory. Our protagonist is not attempting to change her society as much as she is simply being herself, which gets the point across without the message feeling forced.


            The Blu-ray release includes a commentary track with writer/director Al Mansour, along with a Q&A at the Director’s Guild of America and a making-of featurette.       


    Entertainment Value: 7.5/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 8/10

    Historical Significance: 10/10

    Disc Features: 7/10



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