The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019)
Director: Chiwetel Ejiofor
Writer: Chiwetel Ejiofor, William Kamkwamba (based on the book by), Brian Mealer (based on the book by)
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Maxwell Simba, Lily Banda, Aïssa Maïga, Lemogang Tsipa
Chiwetel Ejiofor's remarkable directorial debut tells the inspiring true story of William Kamkwamba, a young boy from a village in Malawi who builds a rudimentary wind turbine to save his family and his village of Wimbe from starvation. Set in late 2001, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind documents how the uncontrollable influences of international terrorism and unpredictable weather can have far reaching repercussions which can push whole communities to the brink of death - and the lengths that individuals will go to protect the ones they love.
The journey through this film is one of great peaks and troughs, as the plight of the Kamkwamba family takes us from moments of deep sorrow to others of raw happiness - as a viewer you will find yourself in a reality where any change in circumstances, however 'slight', can have a devastating or life-saving influence - any accompanying emotions are as elemental as they can get. Not only are they scenes of extraordinary power - particularly an infectiously joyful one towards the film's end - it also keenly demonstrates the importance given to the necessities which those of us in more developed countries often take for granted.
Not only does he write and direct this story, Ejiofor also provides an astonishing performance as Trywell Kamkwamba, a determined but desperate father who is forced to swallow his pride. His emotive portrayal truly communicates the perilousness of the situation, as he scrambles to provide enough food for his family to survive. Maïga's committed and energetic performance as his on-screen wife is similarly powerful, as she portrays the sensitive but strong Agnes Kamkwamba.
Also brilliant is young Maxwell Simba, who portrays Trywell's son William, the motivated young boy who is committed to bringing water to his village during the dry season. It is a remarkable performance he delivers, as he fights against not only his own circumstances, but also against his family's fears, while also juggling his desire to learn and his loyalty to his father. Simba handles such a weighted role with a tremendous amount of poise and commitment, and brings with it an effortless likability.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a crisp and bright film, which portrays the struggles of life in poverty by focussing on the bonds within families and communities, rather than solely on the brutalities and perils. Despite its portrayal of hardship and strife, it is a film of optimism and hopefulness, one which leaves its viewers uplifted and inspired, and powerfully demonstrates the trails and tribulations of lives which are far removed from iPhones and Hollywood superheroes.
In one line: This wonderfully inspiring and eye-opening tale gives a raw but hopeful account of one boy's unstoppable ambition to protect his family.