CineWomen: ‘Wadjda’ director Haifaa al-Mansour returns to Saudi Arabia with ‘The Perfect Candidate’

Plus Natalie Morales’s ‘Plan B’ and Eliza Hittman’s ‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always’

Photo credit: Annlee Ellingson
Mila Alzahrani is “The Perfect Candidate,” directed by Haifaa al-Mansour. Courtesy of Music Box Films

‘The Perfect Candidate’ and ‘Wadjda’

Seven years after Haifaa al-Mansour filmed Wadjda, the first feature shot entirely in the country of Saudi Arabia, she returns with The Perfect Candidate, a movie that demonstrates how much has changed in the Arab country — and how much has stayed the same.

Haifaa al-Mansour’s ”Wadjda“ was the first feature shot entirely in the country of Saudi Arabia. Photo credit: Tobias Kownatzki/courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Victoria Moroles and Kuhoo Verma make a “Plan B,” directed by Natalie Morales. Photo credit: Brett Roedel/Hulu

‘Plan B’ and ‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always’

It’s a shame — nay, a tragedy — that there’s a subgenre of buddy road trip movies now in which teenage girls embark on a dangerous overnight quest across the state or state lines to end an unwanted pregnancy. If the seventeen-year-olds at the center of Natalie Morales’s Plan B and Eliza Hittman’s Never Rarely Sometimes Always — or Rachel Lee Goldenberg’s Unpregnant, for that matter — were able to acquire the moring-after pill or an abortion without their parents’ permission, their stories wouldn’t warrant an entire category of coming-of-age cinema.

Sidney Flanigan answers “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” directed by Eliza Hittman. Courtesy of Focus Features

Writer. Reader. Film critic. Moviegoer. Traveler. Hiker. Cook. Besotted aunt to Logan, Titus, and Bodhi. Based in Los Angeles. Socials: @annleee (she/her/hers)