Inshallah A Boy

2 June 14:45 | Odeon Luxe West End

In a fight against Jordanian patriarchal laws, a widow pretends to be pregnant with a boy so she can save her daughter and home from her brother-in-law seeking to claim his due inheritance rights. 

This year’s Oscar entry for its home country, Amjad Al Rasheed’s rousing debut feature “Inshallah A Boy” is the first Jordanian film ever to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival. Inspired by a real-life ordeal faced by his relative, Al-Rasheed’s film portrays the plight of women who are left to fall through the cracks of archaic laws and traditions rooted in patriarchy. 

The opening kickstarts the terrifically tense plot as our protagonist Nawal (Mouna Hawa) wakes up to her husband dead, leaving herself and her young daughter, Nora (Celina Rababah) alone and in despair. Condolences from those around her ring hollow as the shock of her loss still overwhelms her. Yet, before she can even begin to process her grief, the looming threat of losing her apartment – her only inheritance – to her brother-in-law, Rifqi (Hitham Omari) becomes all too real. 

In Jordan, if a woman loses her husband and doesn’t have a son, part of the inheritance goes to her in-laws. When reasoning with Rifqi gets her nowhere, he takes her to court, laying bare the harrowing reality of grief’s vulnerability to exploitation and opportunism. Feeling backed out of options and desperate to get him off her case, Nawal claims before the judge the only thing she can think of: she is pregnant – with a boy. 

Maintaining her job as a nurse tending to an elderly matriarch of an upper-class household alongside the weight of her fabricated pregnancy grows increasingly precarious, where each blow to her morality sparks escalations. Hawa’s lead performance of a woman in dire need of a miracle is absorbing and fierce. “Inshallah A Boy” serves as a call to reforming patriarchal systems pitted against women, highlighting the indomitable steadfastness of women opposing these systems.

Amjad Al Rasheed | 113 mins | Jordan, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt