the perfect candidate

a film by Haifaa al-Mansour

Saudi Arabia, 101 mins.

Arabic with English subtitles


From Haifaa al-Mansour — the first-ever Saudi woman director — comes this third film, a very entertaining narrative that takes you smack dab in the middle of Saudi Arabia, its towns, its lifestyle, and the immense misogyny women face every day there. The story starts with Maryam, a hardworking young doctor in a small-town clinic, who is prevented from flying to Dubai for a conference without a male guardian’s approval. When she seeks help from a politically connected cousin, she inadvertently registers as a candidate for the municipal council. Maryam sees the election as a way to fix the muddy road in front of her clinic, but her campaign slowly garners broader appeal. What follows is a touching family drama, as Maryam, with her sisters' help, tries to win over the hearts, but mainly the minds, of the men who think she has no place in the public sphere.