Belfast Telegraph

He Named Me Malala review: A deeply touching story of unimaginable pain and adversity

By Staff Reporter

Davis Guggenheim's inspirational documentary is not just a glowing tribute to 18-year-old Pakistani activist and Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, who famously survived an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen.

He Named Me Malala is also a deeply touching story of a proud father and daughter, who have drawn strength from each other in times of unimaginable pain and adversity.

Many images in Guggenheim's film stir the soul, not least Jason Carpenter's gorgeous animated sequences which bookmark this affectionate biography.

However, what lingers longest are fly-on-the-wall footage of Malala and her father Ziauddin, walking hand-in-hand through a media scrum or nestled together, exhausted, in adjacent seats on an airplane.

"We became dependent on each other, like one soul in two bodies," explains the patriarch, who established a chain of schools and raised his daughter in an environment of wonder and learning.

This bond of unerring faith between two people, who have defied the Taliban and could pay with their lives if they return home to Pakistan, provides the film with its emotional core.

Guggenheim's cameras are granted unprecedented access to the family and there are lovely sequences of Malala bickering with her brothers Khushal and Atal at their home in Birmingham.

The attack, which brought her to global attention, casts a shadow over each rousing speech and awards ceremony, and Guggenheim waits until the film's second half to deliver the emotional sucker punch of Malala reminiscing about the shooting.

Her recuperation and rehabilitation at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham once again emphasises the bond between child and parent.

He Named Me Malala is a cri de coeur for us all to follow suit.

Fours stars

Belfast Telegraph


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