Parents' Guide to

The Perfect Candidate

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Hopeful, candid drama about an ambitious young Saudi woman.

Movie NR 2021 104 minutes
The Perfect Candidate Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

There aren't any parent reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: Not yet rated
Kids say: Not yet rated

Director Haifaa Al-Mansour once again explores the complexities of being a woman (or girl) in Saudi Arabia through a charmingly direct and confident main character who subverts the status quo. Maryam, in some ways, could be Wadjda all grown up: an intelligent, independent young woman who knows what she's capable of and accepts that she'll have to overcome challenges to succeed. Al Zahrani is excellent as Maryam: She's endearingly straightforward, outspoken, and undeterred by naysayers. She's got a purpose, whether it's looking for a bigger-city job or campaigning to a group of male voters. In one subplot, she keeps bumping into Omar (Tareq Al Khaldi), the handsome grandson of a cantankerous clinic patient. Omar assists Maryam, and he seems interested in her candidacy -- and her -- but this isn't a romance, even if Maryam's sisters Selma and Sara keep winking at his contributions to her campaign.

The sisters themselves represent a microcosm of Saudi society: Older sister Selma (Dae Al Hilali) is an ambitious wedding photographer/videographer, and younger sister Sara (Nora Al Awadh) is more traditional and resentful of the gossip that Maryam's campaign has stirred up. (It's implied that the sisters aren't desirable matches because they're the children of musicians in a culture where some people believe that music and singing should be forbidden). Al-Mansour follows the father's band's tour, where he expresses hope that social mores are changing to become more accepting of musical performances again. The music is beautiful, and that storyline demonstrates how change comes at a cost (the men are advised to cancel a few stops because of security concerns). Despite its criticism of aspects of Saudi society, The Perfect Candidate also depicts the joy the sisters feel surrounded by their women friends, the sense of purpose Maryam gets at work, and the hope for a better, fairer day.

Movie Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate