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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
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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