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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television - Evan Wil­liams

I HAVE warm mem­o­ries of Richard E. Grant as a dis­so­lute un­em­ployed ac­tor in With­nail & I, that wry study of Bri­tish low-life bo­hemia in the 1960s. In Wah-Wah (Tues­day, 12.35am, ABC1), Grant gives us a semi-au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal ac­count — much of it based on his child­hood mem­oir, The Wah-Wah Di­aries — of his com­ing of age dur­ing the last days of a dis­so­lute Bri­tish colo­nial aris­toc­racy in Swazi­land. In the film, which he wrote and di­rected, Grant has be­come Ralph Comp­ton (played as an ado­les­cent by Nicholas Hoult) and the life of the colo­nial ex­pa­tri­ate elite — con­sist­ing largely of ca­sual adul­tery, more than ca­sual booz­ing and a rigid ad­her­ence to so­cial rit­u­als and peck­ing or­ders — is seen through his eyes. This richly en­joy­able film is a vale­dic­tory trib­ute to Bri­tain’s colo­nial past and an ac­count of the tur­bu­lent re­la­tion­ship be­tween the young Ralph and his fa­ther Harry (a fine por­trayal of pa­ter­nal ten­der­ness and self-pity­ing vul­ner­a­bil­ity by Gabriel Byrne). The high­light for me is a hi­lar­i­ously bun­gled per­for­mance of Camelot staged to mark Swazi­land’s in­de­pen­dence in 1969 and at­tended by Princess Mar­garet, who walked out dur­ing the show.

The Other Bo­leyn Girl (Thurs­day, 8.30pm, 7Two) is a his­tor­i­cal soap opera di­rected in fruity style by Justin Chad­wick, in which Natalie Port­man plays Anne Bo­leyn, Henry VIII’s sec­ond wife, and the other Bo­leyn girl’’ turns out to be her sis­ter Mary (Scar­lett Jo­hans­son), who was Henry’s mistress be­fore he mar­ried Anne. How much of the film is faith­ful to Philippa Gre­gory’s novel, and how much of the novel is faith­ful to the facts, is hard to say. My guess would be about half. It’s true Anne had a younger sis­ter Mary, who was Henry’s mistress be­fore he mar­ried Anne. Mary bore him a son. But when Henry tired of Mary, the schem­ing fam­ily pressed for Anne to take over as royal mistress, en­trench­ing their in­flu­ence. Ac­cord­ing to Peter Mor­gan’s screen­play, Anne with­held her favours un­til Henry agreed to marry her. While the film bears all the hall­marks of phoni­ness com­mon to such projects, it has been made with pas­sion and in­tegrity. The women are ex­cel­lent, and Eric Bana’s Henry is given some good rant­ing scenes. Lovers of cos­tumed melo­drama will find the story ir­re­sistible.

There’s a mo­ment in Pi­rates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Wed­nes­day, 7.30pm, Seven) when Johnny Depp brings off some im­prob­a­ble feat of dar­ing and boasts to those around him: Did you see that, be­cause I will not be do­ing it again?’’ What could he mean? Was this to be the fi­nal film in Dis­ney’s block­bust­ing fran­chise? Of course not. On Stranger Tides, the first of the Pi­rates films to be re­leased in 3-D, de­liv­ers on all the es­sen­tials: swash­buck­ling ac­tion, tongue-in-cheek hu­mour and pleas­ingly scary supernatural ef­fects.

(M) ★★★✩✩ Thurs­day, 8.30pm, 7Two

(M) ★★★ ✩ Tues­day, 12.35am, ABC1

(M) ★★★ ✩ Wed­nes­day, 7.30pm, Seven

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