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Wah-Wah (2006)


Average Rating: 5.9/10
Reviews Counted: 68
Fresh: 36
Rotten: 32

Critics Consensus: The ensemble cast is strong, but they get overpowered by the muddled stew of melodrama.

Average Rating: 6.2/10
Reviews Counted: 28
Fresh: 17
Rotten: 11

Critics Consensus: The ensemble cast is strong, but they get overpowered by the muddled stew of melodrama.


Average Rating: 2.9/5
User Ratings: 19,314


Movie Info

Actor and author Richard E. Grant made his directorial debut with this period comedy drama inspired by his own experiences growing up in colonial Africa in the sixties. Ralph Compton (Zachary Fox) is the 11-year old son of Harry (Gabriel Byrne), the minister of education in the British-controlled African nation of Swaziland. While Harry is a likeable and well-connected man, his marriage to Lauren (Miranda Richardson) is on shaky ground, and when he learns she's been having an affair with one of … More

Drama , Art House & International , Comedy
Directed By:
Written By:
Richard E. Grant
In Theaters:
Nov 21, 2006
Box Office:
Samuel Goldwyn Films - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Wah-Wah

All Critics (73) | Top Critics (29) | Fresh (36) | Rotten (32) | DVD (5)

I admired the movie and was happy to see it but can think of two other films about whites in Africa that do a better job of seeing their roles.

Full Review… | June 16, 2006
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Watching it is like trying to assemble a puzzle that's missing pieces: You can see the outline of a story, and some shapes fit neatly together, but there are undeniable holes.

Full Review… | June 15, 2006
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Deftly balancing the end of British colonialism in Africa against a family's painful disintegration, Wah-Wah marks the impressive directing debut of Richard E. Grant.

Full Review… | June 2, 2006
Toronto Star
Top Critic

The actors give it a spark, and Grant directs his fine cast with sureness.

Full Review… | June 2, 2006
Seattle Times
Top Critic

What is understandably a subject of great fascination to [Grant] soon becomes a crashing bore to us.

Full Review… | June 2, 2006
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Gabriel Byrne gives a great performance as Ralph's troubled father, Harry, and Miranda Richardson and Emily Watson are enjoyable as Harry's wife and American lover.

Full Review… | June 1, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

After watching his directorial debut, Wah-Wah, I'd like [Richard] Grant to stay in front of the camera.

Full Review… | September 17, 2007

Emily Watson is delightful as the American step-mother, as is the rest of the ensemble.

Full Review… | June 21, 2007
Film Scouts

Grant has crafted a handsome period piece that never betrays his first-timer status.

Full Review… | February 22, 2007
Film Journal International

While this is clearly a very personal film for Grant, and he seems to want to tackle some serious issues, his vision is too clouded by nostalgia to be truly compelling.

Full Review… | July 6, 2006
Las Vegas Weekly

Grant is an impressively assured filmmaker, especially for a first-timer.

Full Review… | June 30, 2006
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Only occasionally successful . . .

June 29, 2006
SA Movie & DVD Magazine

Wah-Wah is never less than good but it's also never quite great.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Austin Chronicle

Full of too much blah, blah. And way too much of the shrill, shrieking, screaming, carrying-on variety.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

The lush African setting sets this coming-of-age saga apart - it's too bad Grant didn't use it for more than picture-postcard backdrops.

June 23, 2006
Salt Lake Tribune

Ralph's life, at least as it's presented here, isn't all that interesting, and Grant fails to elevate the ordinary into anything more than that.

June 16, 2006
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

I admire how Grant's writing and direction take Africa for granted (pardon the pun) in the sense that we are spared longing long shots of landscapes and similar signs of awestruck filmmaking. It's is the real thing, no wah-wah about it.

Full Review… | June 15, 2006
Urban Cinefile

Rare is the honest labor of love that doesn't have some redeeming value, and Wah-Wah ultimately wins you over with its sincerity.

Full Review… | June 8, 2006

The film "Wah-Wah" comes across as contrived and artificial.

Full Review… | June 4, 2006

We've seen these characters before, and aside from Ruby, they aren't all that fascinating.

Full Review… | June 3, 2006
San Diego Metropolitan

Maybe the film is loyal to memory, yet it loses steam while gaining speed. The plot becomes a turnstile.

Full Review… | June 2, 2006
San Diego Union-Tribune

Both tragic and very funny, an accurate snapshot of adolescence and a glimpse of the transformative power of art.

Full Review… | June 2, 2006
Jam! Movies

Audience Reviews for Wah-Wah

You can't really argue with someones own account of their own childhood. This is Richard E Grant's childhood, written and directed by the man himself. It would be a little preposterous to say that it's rubbish, not true, etc but my question would be; was his childhood so theatrical? Seriously, if you like all things thespian then go for it but I found the over-acting and over the top performances to be quite grating.

Anthony Lawrie

Super Reviewer

Sentimental and well meaning, the first writing/directing credit for Richard E.Grant (a favorite actor of mine) and auto-biographical as well. The damned Brits are losing their very last colonial holding as those that do the actual work of holding party like its the end of the world.

Apeneck Fletcher

Super Reviewer

Cast: Gabriel Byrne, Emily Watson, Miranda Richardson, Nicholas Hoult, Julie Walters, Celia Imrie, Michael Richards, Julian Wadham, Fenella Woolgar, Ian Roberts

Director: Richard E. Grant

Summary: In his directing debut, Richard E. Grant dishes up a slice of his Swaziland boyhood. As the sun sets on Britain's colony, young Ralph Compton (played by Zachary Fox and later Nicholas Hoult) catches his mom, Lauren (Miranda Richardson), in a compromising position -- sending his dad, Harry (Gabriel Byrne), crawling into a bottle. The couple divorces and Harry remarries, but just as Ralph warms to his stepmom, Lauren turns up to reclaim her family.

My Thoughts: "This semi-autobiographical story set in his birthplace of Swaziland is a raw and honest look into the life of Richard E. Grant as a boy dealing with the separation of his parents and his father's habit with alcohol. The movie gives you an honest look at what it's like to live with an alcoholic and how it affects the family. You feel a lot of sympathy for Ralph as you witness with him the separation of his parents and his father's downfall with alcohol. His step-mom Ruby brings some light to his dark world. The film is listed as a comedy, and although there are some funny parts, I would label this as more a dark drama. The film is filled with very interesting character's that really make the film great. With a great story, acting, and direction, it makes this film one to see."


Super Reviewer

A wonderfully strong ensemble, the story however, is quite complex. There was just too many things that happened, perhaps Richard Grant just threw in a bit too much in this? I loved the mini pockets of treats they placed in the movie though, (Clips from The Clockwork Orange & the mini screenplay practices of Camelot).

The story is almost made to get you into a "steady emotional wave", from calm to heart piercing and to heart warming and back again.

Plot: "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."

Starring Gabriel Byrne, Miranda Richardson, Julie Walters, Emily Watson, and Nicholas Hoult (the kid in 'About a boy'). --- "Wah-Wah is loosely based on Richard Grants (the Directors) own childhood experiences..." or so he says.

Genre: Drama
Side-comment: Perhaps this is a film thats not for everyones liking. I liked it though

Ginny  X

Super Reviewer

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