Huda’s Salon opens with a ten minute single take that sets up the tension that is felt throughout the entire film. Reem is married to a jealous man who is convinced she has eyes for someone else. Her worries are no different than many of the other women in Bethlehem. She soon finds herself blackmailed into working for the secret police of the enemy and must betray her country – or risk public shaming.
That vague introduction may be more information than is initially provided by writer-director Hany Abu-Assad. Huda’s Salon purposely puts the audience in a state of confusion. Things move at a brisk and disorienting pace. Much like Reem, those watching are caught up in the moment with little explanation as to what is happening. All that is certain is the constant sense of danger.
Huda’s Salon is a double pronged story that follows the lives of two women. Reem’s story is the more interesting of the two. It is thrilling and she is a fascinating character to follow. She carries herself with a dignity that makes everything she does compelling to watch. Huda is also in a number of powerful scenes, but they are a little too on the nose. This makes these moments a little less intriguing. Still, the filmmaking is tight making even the less impactful moments of Huda’s Salon an exciting watch.
Woven into both stories are ideas of freedom and independence. Women are tied down by patriarchal constraints in their homes and out in society. Loyalty is a very powerful and driving force, but being seen as sexually improper can motivate a person to do even more. Huda’s Salon brings everything together is an engaging film with an important message.
Huda’s Salon comes to theaters and everywhere movies can be rented March 4
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