Credit Scott Haze/Mully
“Mully” isn’t much in the way of cinema. But its courageous subject makes this documentary’s shortcomings easier to overlook.
Charles Mully was born in Kenya and abandoned by his family at 6; he later stole and begged on the streets. Through the generosity of strangers, hard work and some prayer, he not only found a job but became wealthy by running several companies, including a bus service and oil and gas ventures.
To the surprise of his wife and eight children, Mr. Mully one day decided to give up business and devote his resources to Nairobi’s orphans. He turned his residence into a shelter, moving in dozens of homeless Kenyans (while sending some of his own children away to boarding schools). Later he built an orphanage that has housed and fed thousands; a farm there is dedicated to environmentally friendly agriculture.
Scott Haze, the director, is eager to inspire. Interviews show Mr. Mully to be resolute, and his family kindhearted. Yet the film’s tone sometimes turns repetitive. In one short section, a few orphans tell of their lives before meeting Mr. Mully. Their brutal recollections are essential to hear, but Mr. Haze hurriedly retreats from those and other harsh topics. Just as vexing, redundant voice-overs describe what is being shown; while Mr. Mully speaks of events, scripted scenes re-enact them.
“Mully” nods toward its subject’s religious faith but refrains from preachiness. Mr. Mully’s actions speak for themselves, and his robust personality makes him a pleasure to listen to. If the film doesn’t always dig deeply into this man’s life, we still see the results of his efforts. Those are enough to admire.