TIFF 2015 Review: He Named Me Malala
He Named Me Malala by Davis Guggenheim is a good film that should have been great.
The problem with the story is not Malala Yousefzai. Despite all that has been said and written about her, (and by her), she remains endlessly fascinating, and her father Ziauddin perhaps even more so. Some of the intimacy captured by Guggenheim finds an at-times ordinary girl, but the viewer can see that she is something extraordinary. Her father is even more complex, as he is often times a too on-the-nose supporter os Islam. While Malala’s even-temperedness stays on point, her father (and her mother) clearly deviate from the message.
Perhaps this shows that Malala is far more than media polish, as the worry about the documentary is that she would be canonized by the director for her achievements. And for the most part, Guggenheim treats her with a natural brushstroke, and had the film simply followed her (and her siblings) around, the subject matter would have clearly shined through, to the point that very few embellishments would be at all necessary.
But the embellishments are there, in the form of animation that provides little to enhance the experience, as well as the dreaded treacly score that tries to emphasize that the film that we are watching is capital I Important.
But perhaps worst is the website and call for action. Best to show and not tell the importance.