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During Stalin's reign of terror, Evgenia Ginzburg, a literature professor, was sent to 10 years hard labor in a gulag in Siberia. Having lost everything, and no longer wishing to live, she meets the camp doctor and begins to come back to life.
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
The most striking aspect of this film is the sheer honesty of the whole thing. Certainly this must have been a heart wrenching assignment for Richard E. Grant. To showcase one's own life through the most traumatic of circumstances, is both noble and humbling. The moral double standards of Colonial Britain at it worst, coupled with what must be emotional scars etched into Richard's soul, produce a film of compelling proportions. The back drop of a breath-taking Swaziland landscape, is almost missed as the emotions sweep you away into a numbing sensation, constantly reminding you this is FACT not fiction. Adolescence for most is traumatic enough without the aid of a dysfunctional family at a time when this just "wouldn't do", and the worst anyone could be was a "divorcee". The portrayal of relationships with his parents, step-mother, and all his "uncles" and "aunts" is complex and exhausting for the viewer. There are raw and frank accounts of Richard's personal "demons", and how he attempted to overcome these during these difficult years of his life. The film showcases some wonderful acting. In particular, Gabriel Byrne as the father, Nicholas Hoult as 14 year old Richard, Julie Walters as Aunt Gwen, Emily Watson as the step-mother, and Celia Imrie as Lady Hardwick. All are exceptional in their roles. Rather than "hush hush" Richard has literally blown the whistle on British "properness"! Make it a short-listed film to see, you will not be disappointed.
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