New documentary about Malala Yousafzai is moving and deeply inspiring, if somewhat sensationalist in tone.
One of the most famous teenagers in the world, 17 year old Malala has already been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in women's rights. Shot in the head by speaking out against the Taliban in her home in Northern Pakistan, Malala was transported to Birmingham from where she awoke from a coma immediately to relaunch her global peace campaign – all guns blazing.
Under threat to her life should she ever return to Pakistan, the young Malala is both a public figure known the world over for daring to suggest girls should go to school, and an ordinary teenage girl, grappling with school work, fighting with her brothers and missing her friends at home. David Guggenheim's feature documentary paints an intimate portrait of this extraordinary teenager, drawing attention to the significance of Malala's name as representative of something higher than any single individual.
But, whilst Malala's story doesn't fail to amaze and her natural frankness and childish positivity makes the intimate family moments particularly moving, there's a degree to which we feel Guggenheim's heavy hands manipulating the story, unnecessarily tear-baiting his already engaged audience. Guggenheim gives Malala an almost biblical status, and his film becomes a sentimental weepy rather than an uplifting portrait of bravery and political refuge.
During the course of Guggenheim's film, we learn through an animated narrative – fitted with its own Disney soundtrack – Malala's personal history and the events leading up to the attack, juxtaposed with footage of Malala as she arrives on talk-shows the world over, or pays visits to oppressed groups fighting for feminist causes. Using her high profile name to propel the global battle for women's rights, hers is an admirable story about resilience and self-sacrifice.
Guggenheim's He Named Me Malala movie will undoubtedly succeed at the UK Box Office for its uncomplicated message, but it's a shame that the film has undergone such commercialised, Hollywood editing which detracts, on the whole, from the inherent power of Malala's story.
|What||He Named Me Malala review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
06 Nov 15 – 31 Dec 15, 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
|Price||£ determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here to go to the film's IMDB page|