Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. United Kingdom/France/South Africa, 2005. Scion Films, Loma Nasha, Reeleyes Film, Wah Film Productions Ltd.. Screenplay by Richard E. Grant. Cinematography by Pierre Aim. Produced by Jeff Abberley, Pierre Kubel, Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar. Music by Patrick Doyle. Production Design by Gary Williamson. Costume Design by Sheena Napier. Film Editing by Isabelle Dedieu.
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 (Miranda Richardson) 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 (Emily Watson) 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