Film Review: Huda’s Salon

Nadia with her baby

Living, working and raising a family in a disputed territory has countless dangers, not least the instability caused by a fluctuating political landscape. Peril awaits round every corner, and you’re never quite sure how your day will go. Even if you force any misgivings to the back of your mind and concentrate on living your life, disaster can strike when you least expect it. This is the case for an unsuspecting customer of Huda’s Salon.

Nadia (Maisa Abd Elhadi) is a young mother who is married to a jealous man, a fact she confides in Huda (Manal Awad) when visiting her hair salon. This turns out to be a huge mistake when she’s drugged by the Bethlehem shop owner in order to take compromising photographs. ‘Reem’ finds herself with a stark decision, either work for the Israeli secret service, informing on her countrymen, or face the consequences of those pictures becoming public.

Huda’s Salon tackles wider social issues within the Palestinian community living in occupied Jerusalem through the prism of Nadia’s impossible decision. Writer/director Hany Abu-Assad (Omar, Paradise Now) focuses on the two women. Their lives and motivations are not too dissimilar, both placed in a terrible position by an oppressive and abusive regime. Huda’s Salon spins a web of distrust and deceit into a taut socio-political drama.

Huda’s Salon opens in select US theatres and on demand on 4 March.

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