Wah-Wah (2005)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBUnited Kingdom/France/South Africa, 2005.  , , , .  Screenplay by Richard E. Grant.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Richard E. Grant writes and directs this moving account of his childhood growing up in 1960s Swaziland as it approaches its independence from British influence. Young Ralph is sent into adolescent frenzy when his frosty mother () can no longer take the conflict between herself and his alcoholic father (Gabriel Byrne) and leaves them both for another man. Years later he comes back from boarding school to find his father remarried to a warmhearted American stewardess () who despite winning over his heart is not able to heal the wounds of his past, especially when his father’s drinking gets worse. Colourful characterizations of the eccentric members of this shrinking colonial tradition make for an emotionally powerful film that never suffers for its formlessness: it’s neither a plot-heavy narrative nor a strong bildungsroman, but it is highly involving and memorable. Richardson steals every single scene with their unapologetic performance, while Watson positively shines.

Toronto International Film Festival:  2005

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