Wah-Wah (2006) - Rotten Tomatoes

Wah-Wah (2006)



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

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 his best friends, she leaves him and he begins drinking heavily. Harry sends Ralph to boarding school when things start to get unpleasant, and after two years he returns home to discover that some changes have been made. Ralph (now played by Nicholas Hoult) finds that his father is still drinking, but seems a more relaxed and better adjusted man -- and has just remarried, having tied the knot with Ruby (Emily Watson), a former stewardess from America. Ralph naturally resists Ruby's presence in the house, but the two become close, as Ruby indicates that she understands Ralph better than anyone else (and he senses the same). Meanwhile, the British start to withdraw from Swaziland. ~ Mark Deming, Rovimore
Rating: R
Genre: Drama, Art House & International, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Richard E. Grant
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 21, 2006
Box Office: $0.2M
Samuel Goldwyn Films - Official Site


Gabriel Byrne
as Harry Compton
Miranda Richardson
as Lauren Compton
Nicholas Hoult
as Ralph Compton
Emily Watson
as Ruby Compton
Julie Walters
as Gwen Traherne
Celia Imrie
as Lady Riva Hardwick
Fenella Woolgar
as June Broughton
Julian Wadham
as Charles Bingham
Fenella Wollgar
as June Boughton
Zachary Fox
as Young Ralph Compton
Ian Roberts
as John Traherne
John Matshikiza
as Dr. Zim Mzimba
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Wah-Wah

Critic Reviews for Wah-Wah

All Critics (73) | Top Critics (29)

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

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

Full Review… | September 17, 2007

Audience Reviews for Wah-Wah

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.

Kevin M. Williams

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

Wah-Wah Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss Wah-Wah on our Movie forum!