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Wadjda (2013)



Average Rating: 8/10
Reviews Counted: 102
Fresh: 101 | Rotten: 1

Transgressive in the best possible way, Wadjda presents a startlingly assured new voice from a corner of the globe where cinema has been all but silenced.


Average Rating: 8/10
Critic Reviews: 30
Fresh: 30 | Rotten: 0

Transgressive in the best possible way, Wadjda presents a startlingly assured new voice from a corner of the globe where cinema has been all but silenced.



liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 12,399

My Rating

Movie Info

WADJDA is a movie of firsts. This first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia is the story of a young girl living in a suburb of Riyadh determined to raise enough money to buy a bike in a society that sees bicycles as dangerous to a girl's virtue. Even more impressive, WADJDA is the first feature film made by a female Saudi filmmaker. In a country where cinemas are banned and women cannot drive or vote, writer- director Haifaa Al Mansour has broken many barriers with her new film. (c) Sony



Haifaa Al-Mansour

Feb 11, 2014


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All Critics (102) | Top Critics (30) | Fresh (101) | Rotten (1)

The most radical and cheering message of Wadjda is that a change isn't just possible, but inevitable.

December 10, 2013 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"Wadjda" earns extra points just for being what it is. Who knew that, in a country that famously frowns on women driving cars, some are even allowed to make movies?

October 17, 2013 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This delightful debut feature by a Saudi woman named Haifaa Al-Mansour uses a bicycle as a metaphor for freedom within a social circumference.

October 17, 2013 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A sweet little film about the human spirit, about want and energy and determination against unfair odds.

October 11, 2013 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In Saudi filmmaker Haifaa al-Mansour's winsome wonder Wadjda, a young girl's aspirations provide an intimate glimpse into the possibilities and limitations of a cloaked culture.

October 4, 2013 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

More than a critique of Saudi society, "Wadjda" offers a character with universal resonance and appeal.

October 3, 2013 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

...a well-intentioned yet terminally uneven endeavor...

August 10, 2014 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

There are important films and there are good films, and the two do not necessarily always overlap. Wadjda is both important and very, very good.

April 8, 2014 Full Review Source: Movie Mezzanine
Movie Mezzanine

Filmmaker Haifaa Al Mansour uses the simple story as our entry into a complex culture and a pointed perspective on how women are treated in Saudi society ...

April 3, 2014 Full Review Source: Turner Classic Movies Online
Turner Classic Movies Online

This is a film to be admired for both its on-screen and off-screen story.

March 28, 2014 Full Review Source: ABC Radio Brisbane
ABC Radio Brisbane

A warm, winning, restless film...Beautiful, modestly progressive and heartfelt, with a wonderful, brash central performance from first-timer Waad Mohammed.

March 21, 2014 Full Review Source: 3AW

The overall pro-freedom message comes through loud and clear. Rhetorically speaking, the trick of using childish innocence to reveal adult hypocrisy is virtually foolproof.

March 21, 2014 Full Review Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald

It's a provocative but credible premise and in exploring it, Al Mansour has come up with an engagingly subversive character. Wadjda is a delight.

March 21, 2014 Full Review Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald

The film disguises its liberal editorial message with a superbly veiled screenplay; we're just looking ... but of course, we're also seeing, a much more invasive activity

March 16, 2014 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

This charming and deceptively simple film about a rebellious young Saudi girl with a dream that defies the culture in which she lives, is a breath of fresh air; the insight into lifestyle and culture fascinating

March 16, 2014 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

By any standards, this [is] a fine, moving film and essential viewing for anyone who cares about contemporary cinema.

March 14, 2014 Full Review Source: The Australian
The Australian

Her film is like she is, ostensibly playing by the rules, but throwing us enough sidewise glances to let us know that she's much smarter than she appears.

February 28, 2014 Full Review Source: Madison Movie
Madison Movie

It has a neat, sly way of folding complex pissed-off politics into crowd-pleasing narrative simplicity.

February 4, 2014 Full Review Source: SF Weekly
SF Weekly

A kindred spirit to "Offside" and "Persepolis", this film is ten times more inspiring than "Breakaway", another tale of an underdog and a bicycle. A must-see.

December 22, 2013 Full Review Source:

A series of close and long shots follow as Wadjda rides and wobbles, as she grins broadly and gains momentum in this tiny space, as she shares her glee with Abdullah. Even without using their voices, they express so much.

December 17, 2013 Full Review Source: PopMatters

Rather than making a grand political statement, the film excels in its quieter and more intimate moments.

December 11, 2013 Full Review Source:

The movie ends on a highly emotional note that might easily have tipped over into bathos. But Al-Mansour knows her stuff -- she earns her emotion honestly.

December 10, 2013 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

Simple but charming.

December 10, 2013 Full Review Source: Daily Mail [UK]
Daily Mail [UK]

Al Mansour's first feature film is a striking achievement.

December 10, 2013 Full Review Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald

Wadjda generally feels anchored in the authentic-feeling life of one authentic-feeling girl.

December 10, 2013 Full Review Source: Salt Lake City Weekly
Salt Lake City Weekly

Films like Wadjda do not come around very often.

December 10, 2013 Full Review Source: Film School Rejects
Film School Rejects

Audience Reviews for Wadjda

The first film to be entirely filmed in Saudi Arabia, by a female director at that, Wadjda is a human story about the emotional burdens of life in the Middle East, and the problems that stem from being a female in that environment. It seems that the characters are written to be shown to an American audience, so they have seemingly quirky character traits; like Wadjda wears Chuck Taylors and her father plays video games. The story follows Wadjda and her friend, who she wants to race on a bicycle, though it's disgraceful for girls to ride a bike in her country. She tries to make the money to buy it by entering a contest to recite the Koran (Quran). The film also shows the struggles of women supporting their children single-handedly, and how life truly operates in Saudi Arabia, as well as showing a more empathetic portrayal of its native citizens. The story may be simple, but this is a groundbreaking and unprecedented film.
August 22, 2014

Super Reviewer

Review at
August 1, 2014

Super Reviewer

Sometimes the most simplest of things are the most remarkable. Wadjda, a young Girl living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, wants a Bike so that she can race her friend Abdullah, a Boy she has befriended. There is nothing extraordinary about this situation for most of us, but in Saudi Arabia this isn't as ordinary as it sounds. Religious laws and what is expected from women of all ages are explored here through the eyes of Wadjda, questions are raised but the answers are left to the audience. The symbolism of this simple premise is quite a big deal, never has something so little meant so much. Director Haifaa Al Mansour is the first female to ever make a film in Saudi Arabia and at great risk, for a lot of the film she had to hide in a van and direct via walkie talkie. It is also the first film to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, the ban on cinemas effects everyone, so the challenge to Saudi censorship is huge. I deserves all the praise it receives but I have to point out that politics aside, it is still a wonderful film in it's own right.
February 28, 2014

Super Reviewer

Writer-director Haifaa Al-Mansour does the impossible. She has produced a film in a country with no film industry to speak of. Add that she is female in a community where women are forbidden to publicly interact with unrelated men. Wadjda is fascinating because it does two things brilliantly. One, it offers a gripping narrative of a captivating character. Secondly it also serves as a document of Saudi society. The director even fashions a climactic Koran recital contest as an edge-of-your-seat nail-biter. We get an expert's view from the inside. The presentation of culture was a real eye opener for this critic. The strict moral codes might be described as oppressive, yet the milieu never reads that way. Joyful, effervescent and uplifting, this is about the triumph of the human spirit. How one rebellious little girl deals with her innocent desire to simply own a bike. Saudis can still watch movies via satellite, DVD and video in the privacy of their own homes. Perhaps one day they will be able to see this in a cinema. You however don't have that problem. Please exercise that right and see this film.
October 25, 2013

Super Reviewer

    1. Mother: If you set your mind to something, no one can stop you.
    – Submitted by Frances H (2 months ago)
    1. Hussa: Your stupid behavior will haunt you forever.
    – Submitted by Frances H (2 months ago)
    1. Mother: You won't be able to have children if you ride a bike.
    – Submitted by Frances H (2 months ago)
View all quotes (3)

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Foreign Titles

  • Das Madchen Wadjda (DE)
  • La bicicleta verde (ES)
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