Inshallah a Boy movie review & film summary (2024)
Movie Reviews

Inshallah a Boy movie review & film summary (2024)

We first meet Nawal (Hawa) as she attempts to use a broom to pull her bra in from the fire escape where it had been drying. As it falls to the ground in front of a male passerby on the street, Nawal pulls herself back into her apartment. There is a clear separation between who she is allowed to be inside her home, and who she can be outside it. Little does she know, soon even this interior world will come under threat. 

We then watch as she eagerly primps herself in a bathroom mirror, ready to try for another child – a son –with her less-than-enthusiastic husband Adnan (Mohammad Suleiman). The mirror has a crack down the middle, but her hopeful face is framed in one solid half of unbroken glass. Adnan rejects her advances, dismissing her currently fertile state, saying they’ll try again tomorrow. Her life then changes irrevocably. Adnan dies in his sleep, leaving behind a myriad of personal secrets and hidden debts. Her brother-in-law Rifqi (Haitham Alomari) demands she sell her husband’s pick-up truck due to an outstanding debt and also seeks his rightful inheritance – namely the apartment that Nawal shares with her young daughter Nora (Seleena Rababah). 

As Nawal pushes back against Rifqi’s demands, asserting that it was her dowry that paid for the apartment, she finds herself in a legal quagmire made worse by her husband’s neglect to sign a document proving Nawal’s claims. Regardless of the finances, the apartment was also only put in Adnan’s name because he worked for a company, while Nawal is a private caretaker for a wealthy elderly woman with debilitating cognitive issues. 

While Nawal is at first supported by her brother Ahmad (Mohammed Al Jizawi), he slowly becomes frustrated by her fight to keep her home and the independent life she leads with her daughter. Nawal’s co-worker Hassan (Eslam Al-Awadi) offers a compassionate shoulder to lean on. But even in his selfless offers of money or driving lessons, Nawal understands there is a current of patronizing protectiveness at the core of his offers, even if he doesn’t know it. Eventually Nawal realizes the only path to true independence for her and her daughter is self-reliance. 

Even her interactions with other women throughout the movie are fraught with contradictions. Her neighbor Feryal (as Serene Huleileh) watches Nora after school but offers little emotional support or understanding of Nawal’s plight. Her employer Souad (Salwa Nakkara) is caught up in appearances, often asking her to neglect her patient’s meals in favor of manicures before guests arrive. Rich in appearances, her surface level freedom relies solely on the monetary support of a husband we never see. It is only in Souad’s modern daughter Lauren (Yumna Marwan) that Nawal finds a compatriot, although the two at first appear to have completely different values. 

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