Films often allow audiences to peek into the lives of other people and other cultures. The Saudi Arabian film Wadjda is about a young Saudi girl and her quest to buy a bicycle. While that may sound mundane to someone in the States, it’s something that is frowned upon in SA.
Wadjda is an 11-year-old girl who doesn’t abide by typical rules, and it usually results in her getting in trouble around school and home. She doesn’t wear the clothes all the other girls do. She sells forbidden bracelets and mix tapes to earn what little money she can. She wants to buy a bicycle so she can beat her friend in a race. She’s not your average 11-year-old girl, that’s for sure.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Wadjda is simply the culture itself and how women are represented. They must always cover themselves and be rarely hear outside of the home. These things are taught to them at a young age, but Wadjda manages to rise above them and not necessarily defy standards, but certainly challenges them. She even enters (and wins) a recital competition, only to have her winnings “donated” when they find out that she plans to spend it on a bicycle.
By her side is her mother who at first only wants her daughter to do as she’s told. As the film progresses, we see her open up more and we realize that she only wants what is best for her. The relationship between mother and daughter is vital, as her father is constantly away. By the end, he’s already got a second wife, which is part of the reason why Wadjda’s mom has been so stressed in the first place.
Wadjda is an intriguing and heartwarming film that wouldn’t have worked as well had it come from anywhere else. It’s a unique perspective on something as basic as wanting a bicycle, and it does it so well. I definitely suggest seeing this film if given the opportunity.