Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Movie Review: The Last King of Scotland

Cast: Forest Whitaker (Idi Amin), James McAvoy (Dr Nicholar Garrigan), Kerry Washington (Kay Amin)

Direction: Kevin McDonald

Plot: Dr Garrigan is serving in Uganda so as to help the local populace. He is charmed by General Amin and agrees to be his personal doctor. Soon, he becomes entangled in the increasing barbaric, autocratic and paranoid regime of the General, exacerbated by the larger than like of Amin. To complicate issues Nicolas falls for the general’s wife and his possible escape forms the central theme of the movie.

How long can charm work? Looking at history-long enough to destroy a country. Amin rose from humble beginnings to take control of Uganda. His regime was punctuated with extraordinary impressions of mass killings, paranoia and self-aggrandizement. Why do people fall for this? Simple, it is difficult to separate a charming man from his agenda. And once you are charmed, it is very difficult to resist the temptations of playing along.

Whitaker plays Amin to the t. A role probably made for Oscars. The literal over the top performance ensures that the audiences are charmed too and then horrified from the apparent shift from a simple general who is at home with his people to a crazy despot. In India at least the gore is restricted (Amin was sometimes called a cannibal and there is supposedly a museum made of human remains, if I remember right) but the violence is there in the background. “You are my advisor, you are supposed to persuade me” follows “You are nothing but a doctor”, that would send a chill through anyone. The way the director has shown the paranoia develop in Amin is something to be watched for and the right use of voice based-music based expression make the movie a good watch. McCoy is good as Garrigan, but looks a little bit too young. Kay as his lover does her part well too.

The supporting actors in the roles of the general’s advisors look menacing to say the least.

In the end you would remember Whitaker and his over the top performance. Quite impressive. Oscar winner? probably not. I would have preferred DiCaprio in blood diamond or even Departed.

Rating: 7.2/10

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