Wadjda Image

Universal acclaim - based on 26 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 28 Ratings

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  • Starring:
  • Summary: An enterprising Saudi girl signs up for her school's Koran recitation competition in hopes of raising the remaining funds she needs to buy a green bicycle she desperately wants.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. Reviewed by: Bruce Ingram
    Sep 19, 2013
    Al-Mansour has managed to embue Wadjda with a hopeful spirit, partially because she takes time to show women finding ways to be themselves in private moments. And partially because she suggests with a few subtle touches that the situation might be slowly improving.
  2. Reviewed by: Alan Scherstuhl
    Sep 10, 2013
    A simple, solid, deeply affecting film.
  3. Reviewed by: Randy Cordova
    Oct 9, 2013
    The movie’s best moments are the small ones.
  4. Reviewed by: Robbie Collin
    Aug 20, 2013
    Modest as it may look, this is boundary-pushing cinema in all the best ways, and what a thrill it is to hear those boundaries creak.
  5. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Sep 16, 2013
    Al Mansour is too smart to overdo the symbolic spin, but the thrust of her film, toward the end, could hardly be more urgent. [16 Sept. 2013, p. 72]
  6. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Sep 10, 2013
    An Arabic-German coproduction, it is a rare movie shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, which has no cinema industry to speak of, and the first feature by a female filmmaker from that country. Forbidden from mixing with the men in her crew, Al-Mansour often directed via walkie-talkie from the back of a van.
  7. Reviewed by: R. Kurt Osenlund
    Sep 10, 2013
    It doesn't play like reality, but like boilerplate filmic fantasy, and its novel setting and inception struggles seem positioned as a beard--or veil, if you will--to mask its mediocrity.

See all 26 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 6
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 6
  3. Negative: 1 out of 6
  1. Jul 1, 2014
    ''Wadjda'' one of my favorite movies of the last year!
    The story maybe sounds simple, but the really good develop, makes the film very
    interesting. The performance of the little girl it's amazing, and the script it's excellent.
    Definitely, one of the most interesting movies of the last year.
  2. Nov 9, 2013
    Wow, a movie made with heart for the heart.
    It's a very simple plot but extremely beautiful, the main character, Wadjda, stole your heart
    from the beginning.
    Definitely a movie that everybody should watch and feel.
    I love it.
  3. Oct 25, 2013
    A delightfully subtly subversive movie from Saudi Arabia. I'm not sure how it got by the censors, unless they missed the undertone. It's a fascinating glimpse inside the desert kingdom, and it's cultural grips on the freedom of women. The symbolism is there to see. A girl wants to own a bicycle so she can race her friend, a boy, who has one, but girls riding bicycles is frowned upon (it could break the hymen.) The mother cannot drive a car so she has to put up with a churlish "driver" hired by the husband. Not only churlish but foreign. Daughter, like mother, has severe restrictions on her ability to move freely.
    The girl is headstrong and proceeds to try and find a way to buy a bike, by entering a competition on reciting and memorizing the Koran, not for the sake of her spirituality, but for pragmatics: there is a money prize. The girl's goal is not piety but the chance of some freedom. The mother is struggling with the fact that her husband is about to marry a second wife, but tells her daughter it is her Uncle's wedding. She finds her daughter's dream of a bike counter to her own imprisonment and impotence, and projectively lashes out at her. In the end the girl gets her wish, but we all know her freedom will be fleeting. It's a simple but powerful film, and the Director let's the actions speak for themselves without over reaching and moralizing.
  4. Sep 21, 2013
    The total lack of films that come out of Saudi Arabia made Wadjda, a Saudi film by Haiffa Al-Mansour, instantly alluring. Haiffa Al-Mansour is already credited as being the first successful woman filmmaker in Saudi Arabia’s history.

    The precocious 10-year Wadjda is growing up in Riyadh where she wants nothing more than a shiny new bicycle, but not only is she a little short on riyals, in Saudi Arabia women do not to ride bicycles. Saudi moral code bans woman from driving, going out in public unveiled, living unaccompanied, leaving the country alone, and opposing their husband’s orders in any way.

    This is very much Al- Mansour’s film. She charms the viewer with the common everyday struggles of the Saudi woman, and rather than address the issues in a combative way, her approach is warm, even cute. This draws us in to her characters and provides us with some heartfelt laughs along the way.
    Small details make grand impressions: In an all girls school teenage students paint their toenails, a sin, and are publicly vilified for it. The mere possibly that workmen half a mile away might see school girls playing in their courtyard forces all the girls to rush inside, lest they be judged impure. Pubescent girls are considered impure and must use a tissue just flip the pages of Koran.

    Wadjad’s truly beautiful mother spends much of her time perfecting her appearance only then to have to then cover herself with a full hijab. She is never openly defiant; defiance is impossible, but even thought she is obeying age old traditions that we’d assume would have dulled any emotional protest, through the mother’s submission we get a brief glimpse of her distress, the natural human emotional distress that no amount of “aged tradition” or religious subjugation has the right to inflict on any human being.

    In a country where cinemas are banned, Riyadh is not exactly a city where women can just go around shooting films. Females mixing with male co-workers would bring dire consequences. Al-Mansour shot the film anyway, directing much of it from the back of a van, and the result is a film representing the triumph of the defiant feminine spirit, in all forms.
  5. Feb 17, 2014
    The film's value lies mostly in its setting. Taking a peek inside one of the most insane countries in the world is in itself worth the price of admission, but Wadjda's story just isn't strong enough to stand on its own. Expand
  6. Jul 29, 2014
    I saw only the beginning of the movie
    i watched her hug her dad in public !! and walk like it was ok for women or girls to walk without
    getting caught and whipped
    And watch another clip when she asked her mother if she loved him !?!? WHO ARE WE AMERICANS?
    We don't use the L word
    I wish they made it more realistic