Movie review: When Monaliza Smiled

This Jordanian rom-com is about a woman called Monaliza who never smiles. Ever. She comes from a conservative family (also portrayed by her mannerisms and dress sense), and lives with her much older sister who hasn’t stepped out of the house in 20 years. She’s had no intentions to get married or be with anyone until she meets an Egyptian guy at her new job. From there, you see a lot of the struggles that a conservative girl would typically face in that kind of situation- family, nationality differences, admitting your feelings, and so on.

The characters were all well-written and the story had a nice flow. It’s not a new story if you’ve seen western rom-coms, but it is definitely new for the Arab world in a refreshing way. It had many depths to it, with supporting characters also having their own stories, which I found quite interesting. The ending was a bit too Jerry Maguire for me, but overall it was an enjoyable film.

Rating: Great Arabic film. We need more Arabic movies like this. I give it 4 Oi’s out of 5.

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