WADJDA – a Review

I’ve long understood I have some sort of inbuilt basic flaw when it comes to movies – and theatre – well, any man who can happily pull Aunty Jack out of the closet (and her dress) obviously has issues (Australians of a certain age will understand).

Yes I LOVE real Bond movies – Connery skip, skip skip, Craig and LOVE Eastwood’s Spaghetti westerns, but overall, I loath the Terminator, Bourne Conspiracy type things. I do, check testicles, often really enjoy Chick Flicks, worse I’m at an age when it doesn’t worry me to publicly state the fact.

Fast forward to WADJDA, the first film shot in Saudi Arabia since 2008, when filming and cinemas were banned and this film is about two women no less – a mother and her daughter. One assumes the film maker lives in interesting times. Something about the trailer for the movie caught my attention – I wanted to see it.

I assume I’m much like many people in the West with no real comprehension of day to day life in Arab / Muslim (can the two be separated?) countries, my perceptions and prejudices are formed by what I read and see in the media, so this film fascinated me, in its illustration of modern life in Saudi Arabia.

Now I am in no way any sort of expert film critic, just a 63yr old bloke who could never ever watch BEN HUR again, when Heston turned out to be a gun-touting lunatic, who cried and loved WHALE RIDER, who occasional watches the three hour original version of DUNE for inspiration and THE ENGISH PATIENT to always bear in mind how close a screen play can resemble a book, you probably get the picture.

I loved WADGDA. It gave me hope, it taught me things about the female perspective in Saudi / Arab countries, it reminded me that in many ways, we really are all the same as humans, it’s just that religion and power (usually misogynist and usually men in dresses!) keep getting in the way. While the film was uplifting from a human point of view it, I gave silent thanks that my own granddaughters have the freedom we take for granted – maybe that’s appropriate in the week leading up to ANZAC Day.

A woman sitting behind us, of a similar age to me, told her friend she thought it was boring, I thought quite the opposite. To me, it sits well with THE BOOK THIEF. Gentle, thought-provoking, heart-warming and instructive.

As a footnote I came out of the theatre and watched the news of the Australian arse hole who’s killed his little daughters, juxtaposed with other news footage of the extreme right-wing hatred by white Australian men, as they target innocent Muslim women – where the fuck are we headed and why, oh why, is it always men who dominate, kill and ruin lives?

Go see this film, as I watched it, lines from a Leonard Cohen kept drifting into my mind:
Now why do you stand by the window
Abandoned to beauty and pride
The thorn of the night in your bosom
The spear of the age in your side?
Lost in the rages of fragrance
Lost in the rags of remorse
Lost in the waves of the sickness
That loosens the high silver nerves
Oh chosen love, oh frozen love
Oh tangle of matter and ghost
Oh darling of angels, demons and saints
And the whole broken-hearted host, gentle this soul
And come forth from your cloud of unknowing
And kiss the cheek of the moon
The new Jerusalem glowing
Why tarry all night in this ruin?
And leave no word of discomfort
Or leave no observer to mourn
But climb on your tears and be silent
Like the rose on its ladder of thorns

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