The Perfect Candidate

BBFC PG Certificate

(2019) 104 mins

Director: Haifaa Al-Mansour
Writer: Haifaa Al-Mansour, Brad Niemann
Cinematography: Patrick Orth
Production Design: Olivier Meidinger
Music: Volker Bertelmann



Mila Al Zahrani plays Dr Maryam, an overworked medic at an under-resourced clinic in Saudi Arabia, where she treats patients from behind her hijab.  Frustrated by the lack of a decent road to her hospital she decides to run for a seat on the municipal council. Never mind the fact that she isn’t supposed to show her face in her campaign videos, or directly address the male voters at a rally in a tent, the doc is made of stern stuff and will not be dissuaded. Her musician dad (Khalid Abdulrahim) is deflated, her little sister  (Nora Al Awadh) scandalised, but Maryam goes viral…

This movie was selected as the Saudi Arabian entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards.

For more information, including a full cast list and reviews, go to:


The Perfect Candidate is a simple story, told without frills or even much in the way of nuance. But it’s socked through with great power, conviction and an underlying hope for a better world. The Saudi Arabia it shows us is a place where modernity rubs up against entrenched conservatism, and where even the most decadent Barbie Princess-inspired wedding still features a singer who croons, “There is no God but Allah.” The Kingdom’s a mess, it doesn’t make sense. You can’t even drive your sick child to the clinic. But all is not lost because change is in the air. The Perfect Candidate suggests that all it might take is for one bright, bold individual to put their shoulder to the wheel for the direction of travel to be altered, if only by a degree.”  The Guardian

Al Zahrani is a TV star in her homeland but much of the cast comprises non-professional actors and that, combined with unfussy visuals lends a Dardenne-like immediacy that serves the story well. Its dramatic beats are relatively low-key, but make no mistake, The Perfect Candidate is a quietly groundbreaking piece of work. “  Time Out

“The film generates a feel-good vibe even if beneath the pleasant froth lies a rather predictable polemic against the patriarchy.”  Eye for Film

Fri 18 Jun Stockbridge
Wed 25 Aug Motcombe


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