The 2022 movie Huda’s Salon has an inspiring premise: an exciting Palestinian drama that sees one woman trick a young mother into becoming a spy. All the pieces are there for attractive cinema – espionage, betrayal, competing interests, danger, and, of course, pathos.
Huda’s Salon Movie Review
A vision to work with, and author, director, and producer Hany Abu-Assad provide memorable moments and inspired visual images. Huda Salon, however, stumbles, does not live up to its potential. The socio-economic setting and background are interesting and exciting. Unfortunately, Abu-Assad fails in every film release.
Well-respected Palestinian actress Maisa Abd Elhadi starred in the Huda Salon as Reem, a frustrated mother caught in a difficult situation. Reem has a baby daughter to care for, and she grows up away from her stubborn and controlling husband.
Her hairdresser, Huda (Manal Awad) intoxicated her, takes sexually explicit images, and tells Reem that she has to work for the Secret Service or face the consequences of leaking those images. Although Reem is moving fast, his frustrated appearance is attracting the attention of the rebels, and the situation is growing rapidly – with potentially dangerous consequences.
The Huda Salon offers glimpses of the land to Western viewers who rarely see it, and Abu-Assad is committed to building the Reem world. She carries her daughter everywhere, loaded with bags in a basket. The audience sees him riding on public transportation, waiting in the doctor’s office, and serving dinner to his in-laws.
An in-depth look at her life shows how vulnerable she is as a mother with a new, fragile baby caring for her. Commendably, Elhadi’s performance here is strong, balancing the visible fear as well as the intense anger and self-control, which makes Reem alive. Aside from the many emotional moments, Reem never seems overly full. Designed as a character study, Huda’s Salon is a subtle image of motherhood, seen through the lens of a Palestinian woman – but as a charm, it has no teeth.
Unfortunately, Huda’s Salon is not very good at storytelling, has a strong hand with its sexual themes, and does not spend almost enough time creating tension and participation. The film quickly penetrates the subtle, uncomfortable atmosphere that evokes fear and despair. What happened to Reem sounds strange, but also hopeless – and hard to make that kind of story “fun.”
What can be done: there are a lot of hot films at the top of the theater – The Reading Window and Vertigo both come to mind – but Huda Salon fails to create momentum and, instead, falls into frustration. From the outset, the story seems to lead to an inevitable conclusion; the trip needs to feel great and meaningful as the lesson is set.
Reem is an inactive performer in a large area of Huda’s Salon, without her fault. The film portrays his character as evil, but also inevitable. She has done nothing to deserve what is happening to him, and there is almost nothing she can do to avoid getting into an argument she does not want to.
It really hurts. Included with the main story is the story of Huda; she was also forced to work for the Secret Service, but has since become a victim, forcing other – and many innocent – women to work with the Secret Service. There are benefits to this work, but the consequences of adoption are fatal. Huda’s plot fails to give Reem’s a counter-argument, however, and the result becomes a cut-off story.
Huda’s place also tries to paint a picture of how life can be oppressive for women in occupied Palestine. The film opens with a brief history of the area, stating that life is difficult for women. This social media message is commendable but not built enough to make you feel influential, and many collaborations – aimed at gaining sympathy for Reem and other Palestinian women – are empty. Finally, Huda’s Salon is a story of a thrilling vision that can keep its energy alive.