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Wah-Wah (2005)

R  |   |  Drama  |  2 June 2006 (UK)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 2,615 users   Metascore: 61/100
Reviews: 48 user | 48 critic | 25 from Metacritic.com

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, ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
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Gwen Traherne
...
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Lauren Compton
...
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Lady Riva Hardwick
...
...
June Broughton
John Matshikiza ...
Dr. Zim Mzimba
Sid Mitchell ...
Vernon
John Carlisle ...
Sir Gifford Hardwick
Mathokoza Sibiya ...
Dozen
Sindisiswe Nxumalo ...
Regina
Michael Richard ...
Tobias
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Storyline

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 Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Every family has its own language.

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some language and brief sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

| |

Language:

Release Date:

2 June 2006 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Bla-Bla  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Budget:

$7,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$55,304 (USA) (12 May 2006)

Gross:

$135,568 (New Zealand) (15 September 2006)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Richard E. Grant's diaries, Julie Walters was the first to be cast. See more »

Goofs

The movie supposedly starts in 1969 with the date appearing on the screen. Yet Swaziland received independence on 6 September 1968. See more »

Quotes

Ruby Compton: I'm an American.
Lady Riva Hardwick: How very hubbly jubbly for you.
See more »

Connections

References A Clockwork Orange (1971) See more »

Soundtracks

The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
Written by Don Raye & Hugh Prince
Performed by The Andrews Sisters
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User Reviews

 
Growing up in Camelot
25 June 2006 | by (Sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews

Richard E Grant's "autobiopic" is an illustration of Tolstoy's adage that while happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Grant's childhood in Swaziland as the son of a top colonial administrator (in education) could have been idyllic, but the idyll was shattered by his mother's infidelity and eventual desertion of the family and his father's severe alcoholism. Yet Grant could not stop loving either of them, and in the movie he seems to be saying, "yes, it hurt at the time, but I understand – and forgive." So despite the trauma, Grant gives us a fair account of his parents, lightly disguised as the Comptons, of their love for each other and their love for him.

The second striking feature of the movie is the portrait of a small but immensely snobbish colonial society that was about to disappear. Appearances are everything so clandestine adultery is condoned but divorce very much disapproved of. Outsiders (for example Harry Compton's new American wife Ruby) are scarcely tolerated. This stern moral code was hardly needed to impress the natives, who were polygamous. The choice of "Camelot" as the entertainment put on by the denizens of the white social club for the Independence celebrations is ironically appropriate – for some of the whites it was indeed Camelot, and now it was about to end.

Another theme of Grant's is growing up, generally a painful experience with or without dysfunctional parents. Here he is greatly helped by a fine performance from Nicholas Hoult as the 14 year old Richard ("Ralph" in the film). Miranda Richardson as the errant mother and Gabriel Byrnes as the father are also excellent and there are strong performances from the supporting cast, particularly Julie Walters as a deserted wife and Celia Imrie as the impossibly snobbish High Commissioner's wife. I'm not sure why, but Emily Watson's Ruby was only so-so. The people of Swaziland don't get much of a look-in – this is white mischief after all, but the actor who plays the warm-hearted local doctor (John Matshikiza?) should get an honorable mention.

Since independence Swaziland has not done too well; according to Wikipedia it now has 39% of the adult population with HIV and the world's lowest life expectancy -32.6 years. The combined rule of the present king and "Great She-Elephant" (his mother) has not been a conspicuous success. The colonial days, which took the light form of a British Protectorate, must seem like Camelot even to the Swazis. This movie seems to have captured the atmosphere of the time as well as the pains of growing up.


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