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Richard E Grant digs the skeletons out of his family closet for his directorial debut, a passable and well-performed story of a teenager coming to terms with an alcoholic father and his parents’ tumultous marriage during the final days of British rule in late 1960s Swaziland. As a director, Grant shows less interest in cinema than in honest, personal storytelling. His aesthetic is unambitious and peppered with the odd awkward stylistic flourish: a Super-8 insert to illustrate his family’s earlier, happier days, an embarrassing sequence in which his alter-ego, Ralph Compton (Nicholas Hoult), cartwheels in slo-mo across a lawn to evoke happiness (as you do). That said, the unfussy, accessible approach suits an old-fashioned yarn that flips between claustrophobic interior scenes and some mildly biting ensemble portrayals of snobbish colonial life. It’s all a bit Ayckbourn-meets-‘Eastenders’ on the veld, but 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.

By: Dave Calhoun


Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Tuesday May 2 2006
Duration: 99 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Richard E Grant
Screenwriter: Richard E Grant
Cast: Gabriel Byrne
Emily Watson
Nicholas Hoult
Julie Walters
Miranda Richardson
Celia Imrie
Julian Wadham
Fenella Woolgar
Sid Mitchell
Zachary Fox
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