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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film:


Extras:


Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )
85





Studio and Year: Sony Pictures Classics - 2012
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 97 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


Audio Format(s): Arabic/French DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
Starring: Reem Abdullah, ABDULLRAHMAN AL GOHANI, AHD, Waad Mohammed
written & Directed by: Haifaa Al Mansour
Music by: Max Richter
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 11, 2014
"Hopes and dreams and universal themes…"


Film Synopsis:

Wadjda is a fun-loving 10-year-old girl living in Saudi Arabia, has her heart set on a beautiful new bicycle. However, her mother won’t allow it, fearing repercussions from a society that sees bicycles as dangerous to a girl’s virtue. Determined to turn her dreams into reality and buy the bike on her own, Wadjda uncovers the contradictions and opportunities in her world.


My Take:


WADJDA is a 10-year-old girl living in a suburb of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Although she lives in a conservative world, Wadjda is fun loving, entrepreneurial and always pushing the boundaries of what she can get away with. After a fight with her friend Abdullah, a neighborhood boy she shouldn't be playing with, Wadjda sees a beautiful green bicycle for sale. She wants the bicycle desperately so that she can beat Abdullah in a race. But Wadjda's mother won't allow it, fearing repercussions from a society that sees bicycles as dangerous to a girl's virtue. So Wadjda decides to try and raise the money herself.


At first, Wadjda's mother is too preoccupied with convincing her husband not to take a second wife to realize what's going on. And soon enough Wadjda's plans are thwarted when she is caught running various schemes at school. Just as she is losing hope of raising enough money, she hears of a cash prize for a Koran recitation competition at her school. She devotes herself to the memorization and recitation of Koranic verses, and her teachers begin to see Wadjda as a model pious girl. The competition isn‘t going to be easy especially for a troublemaker like Wadjda, but she refuses to give in. She is determined to continue fighting for her dreams...


After seeing the trailer for Wadjda on another Sony Blu-ray title that I had in for review I was hooked and had to see it. Wadjda is the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, and was written and directed by Haifaa Al Mansour, Saudi Arabia’s first female filmmaker. It was all that I expected and tells a charming and poignant coming of age story about a little girl who refuses to be constrained by the boundaries of her culture. The film offers a unique insight and speaks of universal themes of hope and perseverance. What would seemingly be a simple story about a child wanting a bicycle evolves into a complex story that speaks to the human condition via a rewardingly drawn landscape that beats to a culturally different but universal drum.


I watched it with my wife and we found it to be charmingly amusing (where appropriate), heartbreaking and inspiring all at once. Shot on location and featuring an all Saudi cast there is a genuine quality that pervades right from the opening moments. Newcomer Waad Mohammed is marvelous in the title role and owns every scene she is in. Wadjda is a wonderful film that is 90 plus minutes well spent.

Wadjda took the prize for Best International Feature at the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival, as well as three awards at the 2012 Venice Film Festival, including the Cinema for Peace prize. The National Board of Review honored Wadjda with its “Freedom of Expression” award. It was also an official selection at the Telluride, Tribeca and Toronto Film Festivals. Wadjda is also Saudi Arabia’s submission in the Foreign Language Category for the 2014 Academy Awards®, marking the first time that the country will be competing for the prestigious nomination.



Parental Guide:


The rating is for thematic elements, brief mild language and smoking.



AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


Audio: 78

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency extension:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:




Video: 92

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:


Wadjda comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 30 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.3 Mbps.


This high definition presentation is on par with other new release films of its type and generally looked great. Colors are natural looking with a pleasing and reserved quality that remained within the scope required by the settings and clothing featured in the film. Flesh tones vary somewhat but most offers little complexional differences which appears to coincide with the film’s geographical setting. Contrast is stable with solid blacks and estimable shadow detail. Images are detailed and crisp, with definable lines and appreciable dimension. While I noticed sporadic occasions where resolution fluctuated slightly this appeared innate to the photography and never called fidelity into question. The video is rendered well and doesn’t show any overt signs of compression related anomalies or video artifacts.


The DTS-HD MA soundtrack delivers dialogue that is crisp, tonally descriptive and well articulated. The front three channels handily convey the soundtrack’s elements via an open soundstage that features excellent clarity and imaging. The surround channels and subwoofer see little use but provide appropriate atmosphere in support of the film’s recording.

Bonus Features:

  • Commentary with writer/director Haifaa Mansour

  • (HD) The making of Wadjda – 33 minute featurette

  • (HD) Director’s Guild of America Q&A with Haifaa Mansour – 38 minutes

  • Bonus DVD




Final Thoughts:

Wadjda comes from the mind of writer/director Haifaa Mansour and is a superbly crafted dramatic film that through the eyes of a child speaks to the human condition via a rewardingly drawn landscape that beats to a culturally different but universal drum. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring excellent high definition video, crystal clear lossless sound and insightful supplemental material. I thoroughly enjoyed Wadjda and give it my highest recommendation.










Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews





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Wadjda (Two Disc Combo: Blu-ray / DVD)

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Ralph - thanks for pointing this film out. I'll have to get a view of it. Looks rather interesting and given the reality of how life goes on in other parts of the world, this looks like something to open our eyes up a bit.
 

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Thanks for pointing this one out Ralph, adding it to my shortlist of movies to add to the collection.
 

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Thanks Ralph! Another movie I would have missed if not for your great review.
Looking forward to this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Greetings,


You're all very welcome. Be sure to post back with your thoughts/impressions after you get the chance to see Wadjda.




Regards,
 

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I watched and enjoyed this movie. The culture angered me at times but Wadjda's performance at the contest was simply beautiful, it was worth the price of the rental alone, but the whole movie stayed with me long after I returned the disc. Thanks for the heads up on this one Ralph.
 

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I watched this finally after having looked forward to seeing it for so long.


I was very disappointed in it though as it really did not have much going on throughout the course of the entire film. Story and plot were pretty weak. Everything else from the directing to the acting and so on were good.


The only thing I really liked about it was all the effort it took into getting it made, and also seeing more about the people living in Saudi Arabia.
 

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Shockingly Terrible film. A Disney cartoon has more content that is more culturally relevant. In the Middle East I would imagine this is a kid flick.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by mo949  /t/1515204/wadjda-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review/0_20#post_24471575


Shockingly Terrible film. A Disney cartoon has more content that is more culturally relevant. In the Middle East I would imagine this is a kid flick.

Greetings,


I am sorry you felt that way. I disagree of course and coincidently just watched the film again last night. This time we watched it with my daughter and son who are both home from college. Their reactions were exactly the same, they "loved" Wadjda...




Thanks for offering your thoughts.



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I'll expand a bit. I'm still grateful to have had the potential to see somthing I likely would have missed, but still shocked by the overly simplified story.


The film tiptoed over literally everything and had extremely 2 dimensional characters (about as bad as I've seen in a long time on that front). If you've never seen the locations presented or even had a basic understanding of the superficial issues women in SA face then I'd imagine it'd have some, albeit not much, value on that front; the store fronts, streets, and buildings were all very typical of the area. Anyone familiar with the region/subject matter I would say 'pass' as this would likely insult your intelligence with its rosy characterization of such important issues facing women in that part of the world. IMO this could have been so much more impactful had it decided to actually reach out with enough emotion to solicit tears as the subject matter really should...
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by mo949  /t/1515204/wadjda-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review/0_20#post_24472044


I'll expand a bit. I'm still grateful to have had the potential to see somthing I likely would have missed, but still shocked by the overly simplified story.


The film tiptoed over literally everything and had extremely 2 dimensional characters (about as bad as I've seen in a long time on that front). If you've never seen the locations presented or even had a basic understanding of the superficial issues women in SA face then I'd imagine it'd have some, albeit not much, value on that front; the store fronts, streets, and buildings were all very typical of the area. Anyone familiar with the region/subject matter I would say 'pass' as this would likely insult your intelligence with its rosy characterization of such important issues facing women in that part of the world. IMO this could have been so much more impactful had it decided to actually reach out with enough emotion to solicit tears as the subject matter really should...

Greetings,


I think you're making an assumption regarding the filmmaker's intent. I don't agree regarding the development of the characters with respect to the story's primary focus. I found the character of Wadjda to be well drawn. The interpersonal relationships that revolved around her, ie; her friendship with Abdullah, her mother and the school's principal were nicely balanced with the narrative's framework.


I suppose we could go on about it but the truth is that our interpretations are different, which is fine. At the end of the day opinions vary and trying to convince others to see them your way based upon an objective viewpoint is futile.


Thanks for following up.



Regards,
 

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I'm familiar with the story's focus. Your implication that there is an attempt to 'convince' rather than just state my dissenting opinion and perspective, is incorrect, unless I misunderstood and you were rhetorically musing to remind yourself of what an opinion is?


Your welcome for the thoughts - thanks for yours,
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by mo949  /t/1515204/wadjda-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review/0_20#post_24472425


I'm familiar with the story's focus. Your implication that there is an attempt to 'convince' rather than just state my dissenting opinion and perspective, is incorrect, unless I misunderstood and you were rhetorically musing to remind yourself of what an opinion is?


Your welcome for the thoughts - thanks for yours,

Greetings,


Yes, you misunderstood as my point was general in nature and not directed at you specifically. "Rhetorically musing to remind myself what an opinion is", really?




Regards,
 

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I honestly was giving you the benefit of the doubt. Now that I know I was just getting a lecture on what an opinion is after simply stating mine it all makes more sense.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by mo949  /t/1515204/wadjda-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review/0_20#post_24472696


I honestly was giving you the benefit of the doubt. Now that I know I was just getting a lecture on what an opinion is after simply stating mine it all makes more sense.

Greetings,


Great, glad we are on the same page. Time to move on...



Regards,
 

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I agree with your review of Wadjda Ralph. My family all LOVED the film. Different strokes for different folks I guess.


Tom
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Monahan  /t/1515204/wadjda-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review/0_20#post_24636481


I agree with your review of Wadjda Ralph. My family all LOVED the film. Different strokes for different folks I guess.


Tom

Greetings,


Great to hear Tom!




Regards,
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by mo949  /t/1515204/wadjda-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review/0_50#post_24472044


I'll expand a bit. I'm still grateful to have had the potential to see somthing I likely would have missed, but still shocked by the overly simplified story.


The film tiptoed over literally everything and had extremely 2 dimensional characters (about as bad as I've seen in a long time on that front). If you've never seen the locations presented or even had a basic understanding of the superficial issues women in SA face then I'd imagine it'd have some, albeit not much, value on that front; the store fronts, streets, and buildings were all very typical of the area. Anyone familiar with the region/subject matter I would say 'pass' as this would likely insult your intelligence with its rosy characterization of such important issues facing women in that part of the world. IMO this could have been so much more impactful had it decided to actually reach out with enough emotion to solicit tears as the subject matter really should...

Considering movie theaters have been banned in Saudi Arabia since the early 1980's, I think that producing a movie that was written and directed by a woman and that stars a girl entirely in Riyadh was a small miracle and a good sign that change is slowly happening there. There's a good interview with the director here:

http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=224437165


Besides, this isn't "The Stoning of Soraya M.", it's a coming of age story about a 12 year old girl.
 
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