‘Hala’ Film Review: Pakistani-American Teenager Comes of Age, Torn Between 2 Cultures

  • The Wrap
‘Hala’ Film Review: Pakistani-American Teenager Comes of Age, Torn Between 2 Cultures
For every generation, there are one or two coming-of-age films that encompass what it means to be a teenager of that particular era. The ’80s had John Hughes, whereas the ’90s offered “Clueless,” “10 Things I Hate About You,” “Empire Records,” and “Now and Then,” among many others.

While this is a genre that includes plenty of titles, it’s still rare that a coming-of-age film focuses on a young woman of color, particularly one who is also a child of immigrants. Writer-director Minhal Baig brings this very specific narrative to life with tenderness and care in “Hala.”

The film opens with a Muslim prayer, and within seconds the camera is focused on Hala quietly masturbating in the bathtub, interrupted by her mother, Eram (Purbi Joshi), loudly knocking on the door, asking in Urdu why Hala is taking so long in the bath. Hala stares ahead, unanswering, annoyed and slightly frustrated.
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