Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Also Showing. by Charlotte O'Sullivan

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Also Showing. by Charlotte O'Sullivan

Article excerpt

HE NAMED ME MALALA Cert PG, 87 mins THIS IS A documentary about Malala Yousafzai, the schoolgirl shot by the Taliban who went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Now 18, she's essentially been a death-defying whistle-blower since the age of 11 (when she started writing a BBC blog, about how educational rights for women were being eroded in Pakistan's Swat region).

The film itself is a mixed bag, never asking as many difficult questions as it should. Such as, why were cameras allowed to film Malala as she was wheeled into a British hospital? And have the US and Pakistan governments tried to interfere with her powerful role as an activist? And then there's the score. Director David Guggenheim probably felt honoured to have Thomas Newman on board Newman has been nominated for a gerzillion Oscars and, famous for his creative partnership with Sam Mendes, recently put together the soundtrack for Spectre. But he's the wrong man here. He seems under the impression that the film's subject is a bland little trooper.

That said, Malala herself is such a witty, effervescent subject that you mostly don't mind. She frets about keeping up with her studies and being accepted by the other girls at her new Birmingham school, even as she trots around the globe (imagine Katniss Everdeen, crossed with Lisa Simpson.) She's awesome.

We're also given a chilling sense of what she's up against (vox pops, shot in Pakistan, make clear how many people view her as a Western stooge).

Her relationship with her father is most haunting. Ziauddin (the "he" in the title, who named his daughter after a 19th-century martyr) is smart, lovely and complicated. In another documentary (made a few months before the shooting) Ziauddin sits next to his young daughter and says he's prepared to die to bring his people out of the "quagmire" of confusion. The role he once wrote for himself is one Malala was born to play. Even watching Guggenheim's mostly sunny film, you can't help but worry what the future might bring for this pair. …

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