CLOSED SOCIETY: The fight for equality and justice in a gender-divided everyday life is the theme of al-Mansour's fourth feature film Maryam, an "adult version" of the first movie Wadjda.

Countries is a film writer and director and regular writer for MODERN TIMES.
Published: 2020-03-08
The Perfect Candidate / Maryam

Haifaa al-Mansour (Saudi Arabia)

Maryam takes us inside woman sphere in Saudi Arabia and gives us an insight into its life-threatening and absurd limitations. The willful doctor Maryam portrays a closed society's written and unwritten rules.

A woman may be an emergency physician but not show the face of male patients. From 2018, a woman has been allowed to drive a car, but must be wearing nikab where only the eyes are visible.

Director Haifaa al-Mansour effortlessly portrays a life she knows so well.

The environmental depiction is unique and puts the film in a class of its own. Director Haifaa al-Mansour effortlessly portrays a life she knows so well. She is Saudi Arabia's first female feature film director, with a smash debut Venice in 2012 with Wadjda (The green bike). Last year she was back with Maryam and won Golden Lion.

Rejected by authorities and patients

In many ways, al-Mansour's fourth feature film is an "adult version" of her first. adolescence film Wadjda is about ten-year-old Wadjda, who stretches the strict restrictions on girls to get a bike and race bike with the neighbor boy. In the movie Maryam the strong-willed girl has grown up and is practicing as a doctor. As a woman, she is rejected by both authorities and patients. In order to pave the way to her country's hospital, Maryam spontaneously poses as an election candidate for the municipal council.

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Both films are fables, which through a clear and understandable goal of the main characters draw us into the fight for equality and justice in a gender-divided everyday life.

Between these two films, the director has managed to create the evocative period drama Mary Shelley and the Netflix movie Nappily Ever After.

When comparing the four films, it strikes me that al-Mansour has a recurring core story and template she follows: a defiant, resourceful and very similar heroine challenges society's expectations of appearance and behavior. This urge to stick to the template is also one of the film's weaknesses. Greater authentic…

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