Hawa review – this life-affirming quest is a major let down

December 9, 2022 (Last updated: December 16, 2022)
Romey Norton 1
Amazon Prime, Film Reviews, Streaming Service


Slow and boring, this film had a lot of promise but lacked any serious character arc or development to make it worthy of a second watch.

We review the Amazon Prime Video French film Hawa (2022), which does not contain spoilers.

Prime video is bringing audiences the film festival-winning film Hawa to our everyday screening services. Directed by Maïmouna Doucouré Hawa is a French drama film, which surrounds the coming-of-age story of Hawa (Sania Halifa), a teenager living in France with her Grandmother with the fear that social services will take her away when her grandmother falls ill and dies. Hawa, in her desperation, sets out to get herself adopted by former first lady, Michelle Obama. The film has a runtime of one hour and forty-five minutes and there are subtitles and voice-over available. 

This film opens up themes around social class, and how one can change their social standing in life, and it covers many sad and depressing themes around death, finding someone to love you, finding self-acceptance, bullying, and dreams being crushed. Her dream to have Michelle Obama adopt her, and even myself as the viewer found this to be ridiculous and unbelievable. 

Whilst the film has okay acting and a decent story premise, it’s slow and after one hour into the film, I didn’t feel as if there had been any character arc or development, and was wanting the film to end quickly. 

Hawa’s character is an odd one — whilst I felt sorry for her, she’s not an easily likable character. I found it hard to care about her, and whilst she’s bold and brazen, she’s also boring. Her perseverance to find Michelle Obama is more annoying than charming. The lack of accountability that Hawa experiences for her brash and illegal actions doesn’t allow for her to grow, and we rarely see the hardships of what her life is/what she’s trying to better herself from. All I saw was a girl getting away with a lot of bad choices and a grandmother at home, ill, trying to do her best. 

The cinematography is dark, it’s rainy, and wet, and looks very cold throughout. There are some nicely shot close-ups to try and capture the emotion, and this helps drive the serious, intimate moments between Hawa and her grandmother.

The one good thing is that this film features music from Malian Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Oumou Sangaré, as well as the French-Cameroonian singer Yseult. Yseult plays a great part, and was a fresh, fun character in the film, bringing some happiness and light to the screen. 

The ending has slightly more pace but feels anti-climatic, however, there is a sweet message that everything will be okay, and finding peace. This film for me missed the mark and was dull and slow from the start. Prime Video has been investing in a new slate of projects by high-profile talents such as Maimouna Doucouré, Nicolas Bedos, and Franck Gastambide which underscores the streamer’s drive to ramp up its game in France, investing in films as well as series. Hopefully, we’ll get more, and better films in the future on Prime Video. 

What did you think of the Amazon Prime Video French film Hawa (2022)? Comment below.

More Stories for Hawa

Find where to watch this and more with our Discovery Tool

Explore Now

1 thought on “Hawa review – this life-affirming quest is a major let down

  • December 10, 2022 at 1:22 am

    I totally agree with this review. I love the idea behind the movie and the audacity of Hawa but it almost felt like I wasted over an hour of my life. It was too slow and overly boring. However, I love the girl who plays Hawa and would love to see more from her.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.