Richard E. Grant directs a cast of luvvies in this sentimental portrait of his childhood. In the late 1960s, young Ralph Cameron watches his parents’ marriage disintegrate as he grows up in colonial Swaziland on the eve of independence.
“As you’d expect, Grant works expertly with a terrific ensemble” – L.A. Weekly
“Theatrical in the worst possible way. People are so busy shouting out abuse that you wonder if the entire cast is hard of hearing.” – Boxoffice Magazine
Richard E. Grant’s directorial debut begins with moody images of circling birds, then a series of generalized panning shots of the Swaziland landscape before cutting to a sunset in a clumsy metaphor for end of empire and showing all the signs of an inexperienced director working with an expert cameraman.
Poor little Richard, or Ralph as he is called here! The movie describes his traumatic childhood in colonial Swaziland where he had to endure the sight of his mother’s adultery in the family car and his father’s alcohol fuelled rages. Far worse than that, he had to suffer life with Africa’s colonial English who, if this film is to be believed, resemble a cast of over-the-top luvvies from an amateur operatic society. So it comes as no surprise that they all end up in an amateur production of “Camelot” which is so nauseating that it even turns the stomach of visiting royalty. So all the signs of an inexperienced director working with a cast of stars and letting things turn into a romp.
Talking of turned stomachs this film will appeal only if you like a lot of sugar with your, uh, sugar. Ralph/Richard (played admirably by both Zachary Fox and Nicholas Hoult) is already a thesp-in-waiting. So if you have ever wondered how arch-luvvie Grant ever got that way, look no further than the central performances from Gabriel Byrne, as his dad, who is Peter O’Toole and Oliver Read all rolled into one and Miranda Richardson, his mum, as the tragedy queen whose libido is even greater than her snobbery. This is all heady stuff if you like a dose of theatricality but sadly it feels more like an over-dose.
Richard E. Grant