The Perfect Candidate

Reviewed by Vaughan Ames

Our opener for this strange season which looked like it might never happen only a few weeks ago went down well on Sunday night. We were pleased that 67 people turned up to watch in the even more beautiful Alhambra – the foyer is now as perfect as the auditorium!

'The Perfect Candidate' ran three linked stories together; Maryam's trials as a female doctor in a small hospital; her efforts to get elected as a Councillor in order to try to get the hospital road resurfaced and usable in the rain; and her father's attempts to become a successful musician.

The hospital was understaffed and suffered especially badly when a broken pipe turned the sand road into a quagmire. Maryam tried first to get the council to mend the road then decided to stand for council herself. With even the women being scared to vote for her and the men laughing in her face, this never looked likely to happen. The council were scared enough, however, that she might win that the road was mysteriously mended overnight.

Her father, a wedding musician wanted to become a 'real' musician and took to the road, where his band gradually became more accepted as the film went on, giving us the opportunity to enjoy some Saudi music. The only patient we saw Maryam deal with started by refusing to let her even look at him: it was hard for us to understand how an ill man could put his Faith on such a pedestal that he risked his own life rather than be helped by a woman. Fortunately for the film this was the 'happy ending'; her successful treatment of him was so convincing that he even voted for her.

As a film, this was a bit slow for me, but it did give us the chance to look at Saudi life and sympathise for the women there. How men have come to have such beliefs is too much to go into here, but I was definitely voting for Maryam!