I don’t have a complete lot in frequent with Dr. Maryam Alsafan (Mila Al Zahrani), the titular character in Haifaa Al Mansour’s “The Good Candidate.” She is a physician, whereas I’m a author; she is assertive, and I’m pretty shy; she lives in Saudi Arabia, and I’m based mostly within the U.S. But, regardless of the variations in our experiences — and the truth that she is a fictional character — I might assist Maryam as a politician. As we see within the movie, she will get into politics as a result of she’s fed up with the system and figures if she needs issues to alter, she’ll have to alter them herself. I’m positive most ladies can relate to that, to taking up essential work as a result of it must be achieved and nobody else is keen to do it.
A sophisticated sequence of occasions leads Maryam to her bureaucrat cousin, whom she must signal her journey allow so she will catch a flight to a medical convention. (Saudi Arabia nonetheless makes use of a guardian system which, until recently, required ladies to get permission from male members of the family or husbands to journey.) She indicators as much as run for municipal council on a whim, however winds up committing to her marketing campaign as a consequence of her frustration with native infrastructure and the present councilman’s refusal to do something about it. Maryam works on the solely emergency room on the town and the highway resulting in it’s unpaved and muddy, making it troublesome to herald sufferers through gurneys or wheelchairs. In the future, she realizes she’s had sufficient of it and decides to make the highway her marketing campaign platform.
Her sisters (Dhay and Nora Al Awad) and father (Khalid Abdulraheem) usually are not precisely thrilled when she broadcasts the information. They’re afraid the household would be the topic of gossip, and even harassment, as a result of Maryam is placing herself within the public eye, one thing that’s nonetheless pretty taboo for Saudi ladies. At this level, I’ll point out that Al Mansour and “The Good Candidate” are sincere concerning the cultural misogyny Maryam and different ladies encounter, however aren’t patronizing or polemic about it. There are extra restrictive norms in Saudi Arabia and maybe extra blatant sexism than in Western international locations — a number of males declare that ladies belong at house, and one male affected person refuses to let Maryam deal with him — but there are many individuals who assist Maryam and her ambitions, no matter her gender, or theirs. This movie is within the gender dynamics in a particular Center Jap society, however fortunately explores them with no hint of Western superiority.
What’s extra, the movie can be fairly humorous. I went into “The Good Candidate” anticipating a somber drama concerning the uphill battle ladies in politics face. However the script, by Al Mansour and Brad Niemann, treats the subject material with a lightweight contact. Maryam is new to politics, however is so confident you may virtually neglect how naive she is about all of it. Among the finest moments comes when Maryam and her sisters watch an American wingnut’s horrible marketing campaign advert and use it as a template. They find yourself making a reasonably nice video, even when its inspiration got here from a barely coherent gubernatorial candidate.
Most motion pictures would have Maryam uncover her voice through her political run, however the truth that Maryam is totally, confidently herself from the primary scene to the final units “The Good Candidate” aside. She has all the time had a voice; her marketing campaign simply permits her to amplify it for the primary time. With such an superior principal character and feminist story, it’s inconceivable to not be energized by this movie. I hope a bunch of real-life Maryams see it and launch their very own bids for workplace.
“The Good Candidate” is now in theaters. Discover screening data here.