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Wah:Wah (2006)

Nicholas Hoult , Miranda Richardson , Richard E. Grant  |  R |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Nicholas Hoult, Miranda Richardson, Emily Watson, Gabriel Byrne, Julie Walters
  • Directors: Richard E. Grant
  • Writers: Richard E. Grant
  • Producers: Chris Curling, Jeff Abberley, Jeremy Nathan, Joel Phiri, Julia Blackman
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 21, 2006
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000IFRT5Q
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,331 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Wah:Wah" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Gabriel Byre gives a fantastic performance as a 1960's British diplomat in Africa tormented by love, caring for his son and alcohol. Emily Watson pulls out all the stops as his second wife, a fiesty American who breaks tradition at every turn and attempts to bring her step-son out of his introverted shell. She refers to the upper-crust Brit-slang of 'toodle-pip' and 'hobbly-jobbly' as 'Wah Wah', the verbal equivalent of an eye roll. What is so great about this movie is the quality of the cast and the chemistry between them. Intense dynamics exist between the father's alcoholism and his family's attempts to accept it, then cure him of it. Nicholas Hoult, of About A Boy, is the son who struggles with loyalties between his mother, father and step-mother. A wonderful directorial debut by actor Richard E. Grant, making relatable the story of a family that is anything but average, by drawing on the emotion and empathy that's in us all. --Rachel Moss

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.

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Product Description

Acclaimed actor Richard E. Grant's directorial debut, 'Wah-Wah', is a semi autobiographical 'coming-of-age at the end of an age' drama which focuses on the dysfunctional Compton family. Set in Swaziland, just prior to its independence from Britain, the gradual disintegration of Ralph's family mirrors the end of the British rule.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Characters at the End of Empire July 9, 2006
"Wah Wah" is, quite simply, a magnificent film. It is a film that can be enjoyed by all ages. It is a character study of the challenges within a family at the time of end of empire. The backdrop is Swaziland as it moves to independence from Britain.

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.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wah-wah is more than a petty phrase! July 23, 2006
Wah-wah depicts the disintegration of a British family during the ending time of the British rule in the South East African country Swaziland. The title of the movie refers to the petty expressions that the British people in the country like to use in their daily conversation. The exact wordings were not Wah-wah but instead it is a mockery sound made by one of the characters in the movie.

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?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It is a beautiful film December 19, 2006
"Wah-Wah" is terrific, as only the English can make films. Gabriel Byrne is one of the finest actors in the English-speaking world--just watch the many films in which he has appeared and it will become evident. Emily Watson . . . well, she is marvelous too, in everything that she does. Julie Walters has delighted audiences for years. Miranda Richardson is superb, and the rest of the ensemble cast is exquisite too. Perhaps most refreshing though are Nicholas Hoult playing the teenaged "Ralph Compton," with Zac Fox playing a younger and more-abbreviated version of him.

Such an extraordinary collection of talent--too long to give full credit to--has been brought together by Richard E. Grant, a fine actor who is behind the camera both as the film's director and its writer. Like so many others in the cast, he seems never to have made a bad movie. If film students around the world want to get a sense of what great acting and cinema are all about, with plenty of humor thrown in, they might review the filmographies of the actors in this film, or simply pick their films at random and watch them.

Set in Swaziland as it was about to receive independence from Britain in the late 1960s, where Grant was born, "Wah-Wah" tells the story of philandering, alcoholism and death in outposts far removed from Britain, and their effects on loved ones who suffer. It is also the story of a young man coming of age, who has a sense of wisdom that belies his age. It is a film worth buying or renting. Apparently its worldwide gross was $634,750, but do not be misled by that. It is a beautiful film.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Acting June 2, 2007
By Adam
Richard E. Grant, in his debut film as director, has made a powerful autobiographical film of his traumatic childhood. The film is set in 1969 in the lead-up to Swaziland's independence from Britain.

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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars IGNORE THE TITLE
This is a weird movie peopled with fascinating characters, well-acted but a bit more disturbing than entertaining. Read more
Published 23 days ago by Janis Hendler
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth it!
I purchased this movie because I'm a fan of Nicholas Hoult and wanted to see some of his other work. Read more
Published 1 month ago by KD
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of The Most Underestimated Coming Of Age Films Of All Time!!!
And to think that it was both written and directed by the British-Swazi actor, Richard E. Grant. It completely blows my mind! Read more
Published 13 months ago by Katherine
4.0 out of 5 stars Great acting & interesting story,worthwihile to see!
This film takes place in Africa at the end of the British rule there. It is an interesting film based on the director's childhood there. Read more
Published 16 months ago by UniversityDoc
2.0 out of 5 stars Respectfully disagree with the 5s
The acting in this movie is terrific. In fact I bought it because of Emily Watson and Gabriel Byrne. But the story didn't hang together for me. Sorry ... I can't recommend it.
Published 19 months ago by drcg
5.0 out of 5 stars Hope to see more movies directed by Richard E grant
With this first movie as a director, british actor Richard E.Grant presents to us a biopic on his own childhood memories in Swatziland, at the time the british crown decided to... Read more
Published on August 22, 2010 by Omnes
5.0 out of 5 stars Crumbling empires and families
Any movie with Gabriel Byrne or Emily Watson in it is well worth watching. So this one, graced with both of their presences, is a shoe-in. Read more
Published on November 17, 2009 by N. B. Kennedy
5.0 out of 5 stars No shooting, no violence
Great coming of age tale with superb acting, beautiful scenery and a nice plot that's watchable without being cloying. Definitely worth the time.
Published on October 13, 2008 by Bradley F. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars "A Bloody Masterpiece"
What a bloody masterpiece! All of the parts are played to perfection. I lived that adolescent angst family dynamic and Nicholas Hoult portrays it heroically. Read more
Published on August 1, 2008 by Phoebe Stogstill
5.0 out of 5 stars Memories from my youth
I was born in Swaziland in 1968 (the year of independence depicted in the film) and lived there for 10 years. Read more
Published on June 25, 2008 by R. Ivan Ross
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