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Set at the end of the '60s, as Swaziland is about to receive independence from Great Britain, the film follows the young Ralph Compton, at 12, through his parents' traumatic separation, till he's 14. It is written and directed by Richard E Grant, and based on true events from Richard E Grant's childhood. Written by
When the film was written, Richard E. Grant wanted "Ralph" to be played by two boys, something the casting director was initially against. However, during the audition process Zac Fox and Nicholas Hoult were thought to be perfect and as they looked different ages, they were both cast. See more »
The movie supposedly starts in 1969 with the date appearing on the screen. Yet Swaziland received independence on 6 September 1968. See more »
Ralph Compton - 11 years old:
Why is Daddy's medal stupid?
Because all those idiots, dressed up like bloody vanilla ice creams, think that it's a suitable reward for enduring a lifetime of boredom out here in this... middle of bloody nowhere, that's why!
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Richard E. Grant's mostly autobiographical film tells the story of a boy growing up in Swaziland amidst the end of British colonisation, his parents' harrowing divorce and his father's destructive alcoholism.
Before the film I was promised it would make me cry, laugh and be totally delighted with what I saw.
The tears come from some very moving moments between Ralph (Nicholas Hoult) and his father as they try to maintain a relationship despite his father's drinking problems, depicted by a very frightening and convincing Gabriel Byrne. Ralph's struggle to accept his father's new wife, played by Emily Watson, also gives us a good dose of emotional moments, of which this film is certainly not short!
The laughter comes mostly from some moments of brilliantly over-the-top British snobbery and Emily Watson's spot-on mockery of it. Incidentally, this is what gives the film its title - "Wah-Wah" being her imitation of upper class speech.
And the delightfulness comes from everything about the film - a sentimental and touching story set amongst beautiful scenery, with a lovely score and stunning performances from all the cast. Having spent 5 years on this film, it is clearly very personal to Grant and it seems all that time was worth it. The promise was fulfilled - delight, laughter and tears.
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