Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Nicholas Hoult, Miranda Richardson, Emily Watson, Gabriel Byrne, Julie Walters
Director: Richard E. Grant
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Set in Swaziland at the end of British rule, a young boy comes of age as he watches his parents separate and begin new lives. Genre: Feature Film-Drama Rating: R Release Date: 3-APR-2007 Media Type: DVD
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Characters at the End of Empire
Andrew Desmond | Neutral Bay, NSW Australia | 07/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Wah Wah" is, quite simply, a magnificent film. It is a film that can be enjoyed by all ages. It is a character study of the challenges within a family at the time of end of empire. The backdrop is Swaziland as it moves to independence from Britain.
The expatriate lifestyle enjoyed in Africa by the British was quite extraordinary. They were able to live like kings with large estates and a multitude of servants at their beck and call. Yet, they were also regularly bored, often consumed by alcohol and constantly looking for sexual encounters with other married expatriates. It is against this background that an adolescent lives his life while the family gradually disintegrates. His mother, in particular, is absolutely abominable. His father has his own issues to manage and the boy must navigate a path through this maelstrom. To the extent that the boy succeeds is a tribute to his strength of character.
"Wah Wah" is always a pleasure to watch but it is also funny, sad and then uplifting at different times. To see this film is itself an uplifting experience. It is a wonderful character study that I highly recommend to all viewers.
Wah-wah is more than a petty phrase!
Tso Haven Hei Wan | Sydney, Australia | 07/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wah-wah depicts the disintegration of a British family during the ending time of the British rule in the South East African country Swaziland. The title of the movie refers to the petty expressions that the British people in the country like to use in their daily conversation. The exact wordings were not Wah-wah but instead it is a mockery sound made by one of the characters in the movie.
Wah-wah started off with an adultery affair, which eventually plagued the family for the rest of the years in this soon independent country. The movie centred around the coming of age of the young boy Ralph, who was trying to deal with his growth and falling apart family at the same time. Gabriel Byrne, Miranda Richardson and Emily Watson formed a very strong iron triangle performance for the whole movie. The most interesting part is how the director tried to produce a movie that seems to be about the adults but at the same time through the growing perception of the teenager. Scenes were so well pieced together that every single moment in the movie became very critical to the audience. Emily Watson was fabulous in the movie. She played an American stewardess married to Gabriel Byrne, whose wife Miranda Richardson had run away with another man, who happened to be one of Gabriel's closest friend's husband. The way that Emily came in and shattered all the colonial practices inside the family and within the social circle just put her on the pedestal in the movie. Gabriel's alcoholic problem further injected periodic disturbance to a family that is already walking on thin ice. The theme of the movie seems to be surrounding the idea of how many times can you love and hate a family? And would we ever learn what real love in a family is?
Ralph whose life was plagued by the separatism - both physical and emotional - in the family found himself putting his mind into the act of puppeteer. Ironically this is the thing that broke the barrier between him and his dad's new wife. The funny part is with all the drama going on inside the family Ralph seems to be growing up alright.
Apart from focusing on the family, the movie also display certain subtle and obvious colonial mentality at that time. People who treasured their titles to feel their superiority, the unwillingness to give in to time and the perception of what they think other people's needs are. A very good comparison was that Gabriel was an educator going around the country to educate illiterate locals but at the same time refused to teach his servants how to read and write. Is education a real passion for him? Or it is just a job to put him in the right place of the colonial circle?
Wah-wah is a very well-done movie with a superb cast. It has a good balance of tears and laughter that can keep you going without consult your watches. And it sure does make you feel that your two hours is well spent."
It is a beautiful film
Timothy D. Naegele | Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles | 12/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Wah-Wah" is terrific, as only the English can make films. Gabriel Byrne is one of the finest actors in the English-speaking world--just watch the many films in which he has appeared and it will become evident. Emily Watson . . . well, she is marvelous too, in everything that she does. Julie Walters has delighted audiences for years. Miranda Richardson is superb, and the rest of the ensemble cast is exquisite too. Perhaps most refreshing though are Nicholas Hoult playing the teenaged "Ralph Compton," with Zac Fox playing a younger and more-abbreviated version of him.
Such an extraordinary collection of talent--too long to give full credit to--has been brought together by Richard E. Grant, a fine actor who is behind the camera both as the film's director and its writer. Like so many others in the cast, he seems never to have made a bad movie. If film students around the world want to get a sense of what great acting and cinema are all about, with plenty of humor thrown in, they might review the filmographies of the actors in this film, or simply pick their films at random and watch them.
Set in Swaziland as it was about to receive independence from Britain in the late 1960s, where Grant was born, "Wah-Wah" tells the story of philandering, alcoholism and death in outposts far removed from Britain, and their effects on loved ones who suffer. It is also the story of a young man coming of age, who has a sense of wisdom that belies his age. It is a film worth buying or renting. Apparently its worldwide gross was $634,750, but do not be misled by that. It is a beautiful film."
The Fallout of British Colonialism
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 01/16/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gifted actor Richard E. Grant makes his writing and directing debut with this highly entertaining film about the last days of British colonial protectorate of Swaziland, East-South Africa, drawing from his memoirs as a child growing up in Swaziland the time when the Kingdom of Swaziland was given its independence from British rule. The autobiographical nature of the film aids in Grant's sensitive approach to creating this drama tinged with comedy and the result if a film that is one of the strongest depictions of the end of British colonialism in the world. Supported by a sterling cast Grant makes a strong impression with this delightful outing.
Harry Compton (Gabriel Byrne) is the Minister of Education for Swaziland, respected by both the natives and the snobbish, insular, stuffy colonialists who live in the isolation of the colony's chief city. Harry is married to Lauren (Miranda Richardson) whose disgust with her husband's home habits and the stifling life of the colonialists is placated by adultery: her latest affair is with John Traherne (Ian Roberts) whose wife Gwen (Julie Walters) is a close friend of the family. Their son Ralph (played as a young boy by Zachary Fox and as an older lad by Nicholas Hoult) discovers his mother's adultery and the family comes to a disastrous crumble as Lauren leaves Harry and Ralph to escape her perceived prison. Harry descends into alcoholism and Ralph is sent away to boarding school, only to return a few years later to find that Harry has married a tacky but truthful American Ruby (Emily Watson) whose presence is the center of disgust from the colonials lead by their Lady Hardwick (Celia Imre) and who mimics the colonial snobbery by terming their insular and foolish language as 'wah-wah'.
Gradually Ruby wins the confidence and respect of Ralph and as the time approaches for the British to hand over the independence to the natives, Princess Margaret is scheduled for an appearance and the colonials led by Lady Hardwick plan a performance of 'Camelot' for the occasion. Ralph discovers he can both sing and act and wins a role in the play, finding the beginning of his true self at last. How the production and the Princess' visit come off and how the intricacies of the Compton family are resolved serve as the finale of the film.
There are numerous subplots in the film and not all of them are fully realized or even necessary, but chalk that up to the 'first film' experience of Grant. Grant does demonstrate a sturdy hand in directing a cast of superb actors, both British and African including the excellent John Matshikiza whose Dr. Zim Mzimba represents one of the only grounded minds in the film. The beauty of Swaziland is captured by the lush photography by Pierre Aïm and a thoroughly charming musical score by Patrick Doyle. Not only is the story entertaining and well told, it also gives us insights into the machinations of the last of the British Empire era. Recommended viewing. Grady Harp, January 07