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Product Description Acclaimed actor Richard E. Grant's Wah-Wah is a semi-autobiographical 'coming-of-age at the end of an age' story, told through the eyes of young Ralph Compton. Set during the last gasp of the British Empire in Swaziland, South East Africa, in 1969, the plot focuses on the dysfunctional Compton family whose gradual disintegration mirrors the end of British rule.
As an 11-year-old, Ralph witnesses his mother's adultery with his father's best friend. His parents divorce and Ralph is sent to boarding school. His father, Harry (Gabriel Byrne), not only loses his wife (Miranda Richardson) and best friend, but also his position as Minister of Education with the coming of Independence, prompting his rapid descent into alcoholism.
Now 14, Ralph (Nicholas Hoult) returns home to discover that his father has re-married an American ex-air 'hostess' named Ruby whom his father has known all of six weeks. As round a peg as you could find in this square holed society, Ruby (Emily Watson) ridicules the petty snobbery of the restless colonials whose chief amusements are gin, adultery, and their foppish slang of 'toodle-pip' and 'hobbly-jobbly' ' that Ruby identifies as sounding like Wah-Wah.
Although Ralph is initially wary of Ruby, he bonds with her as his father's drinking escalates and becomes dangerously out of control. It's this chaos that stokes Ralph's inner turmoil, and eventually forges his creative mind.
More Stills from Wah-Wah (click for larger image)
Top Customer Reviews
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 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?Read more ›
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'.Read more ›
Seen through the eyes of teenager Ralph (Nicholas Hoult), we see scenes of intense and emotional acting from Gabriel Byrne, Emily Watson, Miranda Richardson and Julie Walters.
The devastating effects that alcoholism has on a family are profoundly poignant in this film. But also the way that infidelity and treachery is so corroding on people's lives, especially those we love, is devastating. But the pathos in Wah-Wah comes from the heartbreaking depiction of unrequited love that Ralph's father (Gabriel Byrne) has for Ralph's mother, played without sentimentality by Miranda Richardson. Gabriel Byrne's acting is compelling and nuanced, that he will leave you gasping in admiration at his skill as an actor.
"The lives of the colonial hierarchy are depicted and mocked, and wah-wah is how Ralph's stepmother Ruby (Emily Watson) described the British pretensions the country is dealt with, with enormous affection."
Furthermore, Wah-Wah is filmed entirely in Swaziland. The cinematography is breathtaking; for we see wide camera shots of landscape that make Swaziland such a visually beautiful country.
This is a well-told and engaging film with some of the best acting performances I have seen on the screen in a long time.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love Richard E. Grant in pretty much everything, so I really wanted to love this. Particularly as I learned about it watching an interview with him where he spoke of his... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Sam
ooops, accidental rental, turned out to be a wonderful find.
Excellent cast, with an intimacy that makes this film more
like a live theater experience.
Didn't like this movie. Didn't hold my interest. Cast didn't meld.
This is a weird movie peopled with fascinating characters, well-acted but a bit more disturbing than entertaining. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Janis Hendler
I purchased this movie because I'm a fan of Nicholas Hoult and wanted to see some of his other work. Read morePublished 23 months ago by KD