Wah Wah Richard E. Grant

Wah Wah is a surprisingly earnest directorial debut from Richard E. Grant. It's an autobiographical tale about coming of age in colonial Swaziland on the eve of that country's independence. Standing in for Grant is Ralph Compton (Nicholas Hoult from About a Boy), an awkward teenager who channels his anger and confusion over his parents' break-up and his father's raging alcoholism into facial ticks and puppetry. It also showcases the nature and mindset of British colonial communities rife with adultery and infighting masked by antiquated social rules and foppish language. Though the film takes place in the early '70s, these colonial characters seem stuck in a much earlier, more innocent time. Wah Wah could be set anywhere in the British Empire, as the colonials completely ignore local culture and people, who of course inevitably rise up to oust them. It's a small, character-driven story that's well-told, if a little sentimental. Grant seems to be somewhat working out the pain and trauma of his childhood on the big screen, and the story doesn't have a whole lot of wider resonance. However, the film is especially well-acted by a supporting cast that includes Gabriel Byrne as Ralph's drunken father and Emily Watson as his American stepmother whose distance from the British way of life highlights its absurdity. (Loma Nasha/Scion)