Friday, 6 June 2008

Last King of Scotland

Hi chaps and ladies.....

Okay, so just watched Last King Of Scotland, featuring an Oscar-Winning performance for leading man Forest Whitaker - a bit of a chameleon, having appeared in movies such as The Crying Game, Platoon, and as jazz legend Charlie Parker in Clint Eastwood's Bird. A Black Kevin Spacey, maybe?

Anyway, it's based on the 1998 Giles Foden book, loosely based on actual historical events surround the life of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, the British Army trained, capricious mass murderer who famously ejected all the Asian population from the country in the 70s, as well as killing 300,000 people. It concerns the odd couple relationship between the big man and Scottish Doctor Nicholas Garrigan (played by James McEvoy), who is also based on an actual person, Bob Astles, the President's physician, friend, eventual confident, and right-hand man.

Forest Whitaker's performance is as magnificent as has already been documented. By turns charming and friendly, he gradually reveals his murderous, capricious nature to Garrigan over the course of the movie, as McEvoy's character, a Brit abroad escaping from his oppressive father and prospectively boring life as just another GP, evolves from being a naive lad off on his jollies into someone who eventually becomes complicit in the murderous regime of his dictator friend, before the terrifying reality of his entrapment in the nightmare situation is gradually revealed to him.

With a plummy, posh English Gillian Anderson making a brief appearance as a missionary doctor making an appearance, the usual criticism of such movies depicting Africa come into play. Africans are depicted an unsophisticated, barbaric heathens, and the movie is very much presented through the White eyes of McEvoy, who does however distance himself from the overtly colonial attitudes of the English ambassadors who represent the British government's interests in the chaos of Uganda. The movie does make some concession to blurring the boundaries between civilised and uncivilised in the somewhat unsypathetic portrayal of Gerrigan, who is too busy having a fun adventure abroad to realise the seriousness of the situation faced by the native people (including one of the President's wives, whom he impregnates) of Uganda for much of the movie.

It's a good watch overall, worth the time for Whitakers' performance alone, which embodies a compelling mixture of charisma, capriciousness, charm and evil, though the lack of a largely sympathetic central character in McEvoy to balance proceedings means the film lacks a heart which stops one from truly loving it.

Hack Rating: 3/5

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