DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

HE NAMED ME MALALA (director: Davis Guggenheim; screenwriter: based on the autobiography “I Am Malala” by Christina Lamb & Malala Yousafzai; cinematographer: Erich Roland; editors: Greg Finton/Brian Johnson/Brad Fuller; music:  Thomas Newman; cast: Malala Yousafzai, Ziauddin Yousafzai, Toor Pekai Yousafzai, Atal Yousafzai, Khushal Yousafzai; Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Walter Parkes/Laurie Macdonald/Davis Guggenheim; Fox Searchlight; 2015)

"The best thing about the film is its truly heroic Pakistani teenager heroine and the few unrehearsed glimpses we get of her."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An inspirational documentary on Malala Yousafzai, named after a warrior, that's based on her best-selling autobiography “I Am Malala” by Christina Lamb & Malala Yousafzai. Unfortunately the limited film presents mostly news clips we are already too familiar with and a long list of her staged speeches, we could care less about. The best thing about the film is its truly heroic Pakistani teenager heroine and the few unrehearsed glimpses we get of her. She made the international news headlines when she was critically shot on October of 2012 by the Taliban while on a school bus in her Swat Valley hometown, in rural Pakistan, and survived the brutal attack. The savage Taliban objected that the peaceful girl was promoting education for females in the territory they ran.

The documentary proves to us that she's a wonderful person, who is charming, disarmingly bright and naive. Uprooted from her native land because her life is still threatened, she and her family have found sanctuary in London. The youngster struggles in her new life as she has difficulty fitting in to a Western culture and adjusting to her English classmates. She's trapped between two vastly different cultures, and so far has not made a smooth transition.

Too bad this flawed but splendid advocate for women’s education worldwide was given such a stilted and irritatingly slick heart-pulling documentary by noted documentarian Davis Guggenheim ("From the Sky Down"/"An Inconvenient Truth"), when the girl didn't need such slickness for us to care about her and admire her courage.

Though well-meaning, it was still too boring and badly mistaken about giving its sweet subject such a phony uplift.

REVIEWED ON 11/15/2015       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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