Review: He Named Me Malala Is Disjointed and Unfocused
Title: He Named Me Malala
Director: Davis Guggenheim
Principal Cast: Malala Yousafzai, Ziauddin Yousafzai, Toor Pekai Yousafzai, Khushal Yousafzai, and Atal Yousafzai
Summary: A look at the events leading up to the Talibans’ attack on the young Pakistani school girl, Malala Yousafzai, for speaking out on girls’ education and the aftermath, including her speech to the United Nations.
I’ve found that documentaries are a strange type of thing for me to review. I feel like there is only so much I can say because I can’t really talk about the acting or the story because there isn’t one. There is also the problem that it can be very hard to separate how good a documentary is from whether or not you are invested in the subject.
He Named Me Malala tells an interesting story that needs to be told, but seems to sugar coat something that really shouldn’t be.
The first thing that truly stood out to me that quickly began to lower my expectations of the movie was that any flashback was told in animated watercolors. The images were quite beautiful and well drawn but they seemed to give the movie this strange tone that didn’t match the story that was being told. I understand that you can’t have an R rated documentary when you’re going for mass appeal, but this is an R rated story.
The juxtaposition from these images is jarring because they seem like something out of a Disney movie when we’re talking about terrorism and a teenager getting shot in the head. It almost feels like they are trying to sugarcoat this story, in a way, which makes no sense. The reason the story of Malala Yousafzai caught headlines was because of how brutal it was. Everyone knew the Taliban was killing people but no one thought they would publicly kill a young girl. To try and downplay how horrible that is is to miss why the event was so important and why it caught on so much.
The pacing is also very strange, and combined with a disjointed story they don’t mesh well together. There doesn’t seem to be much of a timeline for the documentary and it moves around from telling the story of Malala to her father to her mother and everything in between. The story jumps around so much and makes a movie that is only eighty seven minutes long feel so much longer. That being said I do think that He Named Me Malala is a documentary that people should go out and see. It’s about something that is relevant and important to this day. Her story is one that more people should know and understand which is why I want to sort of forgive the movie for downplaying how violent all of this was.
He Named Me Malala is an okay documentary that should have been so much better, considering the subject. The movie lacks focus, has poor pacing and has a strange tone. Malala’s story is important, though, so people should probably see it in some capacity.