The Perfect Candidate
Cert: PG Year: 2019 Length: 104 mins Language: Arabic and English
Cinema Handout (PDF 110KB)
Score: 79.03% Attendance: 67
A perfect candidate to start our new season too? We thought so. We last saw director Haifaa Al-Mansour in 2014 with the first Saudi film ever directed by a woman – 'Wadjda' – where she brought us a small girl determined to own a bike (not allowed in Saudi). Six years later, she is back in Saudi with Maryam, a female doctor trying her hardest to be accepted as a doctor (her first patient refuses to let a woman touch him).
Her clinic has the only emergency room for miles and is down a dirt road which becomes a quagmire when it rains. Failing to get the local councillor to do anything about it, she decides to stand for office herself. "Maryam doesn’t see herself as any kind of feminist pioneer. Her motivations are practical, not symbolic. But the people around her are bull-headed. To them, nothing exists beyond her gender. When she makes an appearance on local TV, the presenter assumes her policies deal only in women’s issues 'like gardens, for instance'" – Clarisse Loughrey, Independent.
In a country where males are totally dominant, Maryam gets little support from either men or women, but she soldiers on. "Al-Mansour cleverly shows that Maryam's family connections in the world of being a wedding singer have given her some crucial experience in public performance and addressing large assemblies of people, including men, in that rare context that permits the public acceptability of women" Peter Bradshaw, Guardian. This gives her campaign an air of credibility to us, though the reactions to her might well make us pretty angry too!
Will she win or lose? You will have to come along to find out.
An enthralling work of subtle power.
Rob Aldam, Backseat Mafia
Maryam's story is one to empathise with, but still precise enough to entirely belong to her. Ella Kemp, Little White Lies
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