'Wadjda': a plucky girl and hope for change

Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.February 13, 2014 

Waad Mohammed plays the title role in Wadjda, about a Saudi girl who wants something she's not supposed to have: a bicycle.

TOBIAS KOWNATZKI

  • MOVIE REVIEW

    One World Film Festival: 'Wadjda'

    ★★★☆☆

    PG for thematic elements, brief mild language and smoking. Sony Pictures Classics. 1:38.

    When: 10 a.m. Feb. 15

    Where: Kentucky Theatre, 214 E. Main St.

    Admission: Free

    Learn more: (859) 266-6073, Oneworldfilmfestival.org

A very sad tale is told with as much humor and hope as possible in Wadjda, a rare film from repressive Saudi Arabia. It is the next film in the free One World Film Festival.

Wadjda tackles the repression head-on in its story of a girl (the title character, played by plucky Waad Mohammed) who wants something Saudi girls are not supposed to have: a bicycle. Wadjda is a smart aleck, which is probably not a great thing to be in Saudi Arabia, but her sense of humor helps her persevere in a society where women and girls are not supposed to laugh in the presence of men, show their faces in public, hope to be listed on their own family trees or, basically, pretend that they are people with rights.

The storytelling in Wadjda is occasionally clumsy, but Wadjda is such a likable kid that she keeps us interested as the movie ambles toward a perfectly gauged, ambiguous conclusion, one that acknowledges the difficulty of the situation for women in Saudi Arabia but hints that Wadjda's generation might be able to make some changes.

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