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Wild At Heart movie review - The First Grader

Wild Bill Ketelhut provides the "blog" to this anti-blog

Wild At Heart

Director Justin Chadwick (known mainly for directing episodes of MI-5 and the Bleak House mini-series) showcases his talents in this little must-see film, "The First Grader" about the true story of an 84 year-old Kenyan villager and ex-Mau Mau freedom fighter Maruge who desires to go to school to learn to read. He shows persistence to gain acceptance into the overcrowded school of six-graders. One teacher, played wonderfully by Naomie Harris, brings a nice spirit that makes learning seem exciting (can we clone her and bring her to the US to teach our children).

Things heat up with a mix of flashbacks of the horrors of war with the British by Maruge, distrust by some of the adults of the school children and a head of the school board who takes a personal dislike to Maruge. Maruge shows a strong desire to learn and forms a bond with the teacher and the students that transcends all barriers.

This is the first film I have seen this year that has gotten me thinking about next year’s Oscar race and it weaves a wonderfully told story about setting oneself a goal and not letting anyone squash it. In real life, Maruge, recognized by Guiness as the oldest person to start their primary education, eventually becomes a symbol of the education system and it’s power to improve life and gets invited to the US for a major conference. Not bad for someone who didn’t know how to read until he was 84. The only thing that kind of took away was a radio bit by an African DJ talking about seeing a Kenyan in the White House and I could just hear the damn birthers picking that up and trying to use it in their warped thinking.

Besides that, this is the first must-see film in the theatres in my opinion and will definately be a crowd pleaser for those that take the time to find it. This film is full of heart and deserves a strong showing in theatres. Please get your friends together and make plans to see this movie.

My grade is an A.

The movie opens this Friday at the Maple Arts Theatre.