Wah Wah

DirectorRichard E Grant
StarringGabriel Byrne
Emily Watson
Miranda Richardson
Julie Walters
Running Time120 mins

This is a surprisingly subtle and complex film set in the twilight days of imperial Swaziland. The story centres around the complicated family life of Ralph Compton. He has to negotiate infidelity, adultery and alcoholism from his parents as he witnesses and becomes a participant in the break up of his family unit in the unreal colonial bubble world of Swaziland. The arrival of a brash, young American into the stuffy colonial community and into Ralph's family brings another round of complications and considerations for all to deal with.

Despite the exotic backdrop and surroundings, the film captures the strange world of the enclosed western community. It has its own priorities and foibles and seems more like a small English village than an administration running a colony. The American, of course, refuses to play by all the ingrained rules of the community and so causes ripples of her own - although these will endear her to others.

It is nice to be treated to a film that does not have easy answers, simple plots and happy endings. This is an intelligent film that was based on Richard E. Grant's own childhood and real life is usually far more subtle and complex than anything that Hollywood churns out. The beauty of this film is that it captures those subtleties. You do not always know what to say in certain circumstances. Your life does not always go according to plan. You do make mistakes with those you love and you do not always know how to correct those mistakes. You can become incredibly frustrated and disappointed with those that you love. This film is all about a real family situation even if it is set in an unusual location.

The Father with his American Wife Father and Son
Family Tensions The Governor at handover

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by Stephen Luscombe