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'Hotel Rwanda' ***** 051205
The Work = *****
I mention that because as horrifying a fantasy as that was I realize that for many in the world something similar really happened. (Minus the zombies of course.) In 'Hotel Rwanda' I was shown a country who’s landscape changed virtually overnight. Order turned to chaos and widespread atrocities occurred almost in the blink of an eye. The situation must have been terrifying.
A wonderfully moving film, 'Hotel Rwanda' should have been a blockbuster. It’s a shame really, that while it garnered some attention it was not the mega success that it could have been. Now to be fair, it did make 24 million. I don’t know what the budget was but I hope that was enough profit to make it a financial success. Besides, with any luck it is raking in a tidy sum on video.
I suspect that I am not that unusual a case when I say that I didn’t know much about the genocide in Rwanda. Oh sure, I knew there were atrocities associated with a conflict in the area but that is about where my knowledge ends. 'Hotel Rwanda' does a remarkable job of skating between being an entertaining drama and an informative one while somehow not becoming too preachy or too actiony’.
The film follows the real life character of Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle.) He is the Hotel Manager of the best hotel in Rwanda. He watches over dignitaries from around the world, (as well as local politicians,) while they stay at the hotel. He enjoys an upper middle class living and his home, dress, and family life have strong similarities to a Western lifestyle found in the US.
His character reminded me a bit of Rick in Casablanca. The similarity is really only in his work, smoothing over difficulties and working with what he has available he does the best job he can. He becomes a reluctant player during the genocide, housing many at his hotel who would surely have been executed. He wants no part at first but finds he cannot turn people away and eventually risks his life to save all those he can.
There is not a bad performance in the film. Everyone in 'Hotel Rwanda' is exceptional. Cheadle, Nick Nolte, Joaquin Phoenix, David O’Hara (the crazy Irishman from 'Braveheart',) and the rest of the cast all give exceptional performances. They show off near perfect casting on the part of the filmmakers. Of special note is the actress Sophie Okonedo as Paul’s wife Tatiana. Her performance is moving and the range of emotion she convincingly goes through is impressive.
Co-writer and director Terry George managed to create a movie that is informative, moving and filled with tension. He shows the horrors of the atrocities but keeps everything within the PG-13 universe. Doing so could have seemed very contrived and could have ruined the message that the filmmakers were trying to get across. George makes it work, however and I never felt that the images were being cleaned up or censored just to fit into the rating.
I highly recommend 'Hotel Rwanda'. This is a moving film about a real tragedy. I hope it brings attention to the atrocities going on in the area. Great performances, great direction, great, great film.
DVD = ****
All Together = *****
'Hotel Rwanda' does push some of the details surrounding the atrocities to the background. This does not make light of what happens it simply means the film is not a documentary. George went the route of a thriller and the result is a gripping film that brings light to a tragedy that occurred under the watch of those that did nothing to stop it. Yes there is more to know about the events, so go out and read about it or rent a documentary.
If the film had tried to do everything it surely would have failed on all fronts. I mean honestly, if this film had gone overboard I could see the complaints being more warranted. If George had done something similar to say Michael Bay with the love triangle he added to 'Pearl Harbor'. You know something like: "for those of you who don't think there is enough drama in Rwanda: we've added a love story."
George does no such thing and instead through the eyes of a real life hero George and crew fashioned a moving drama. I loved the performances, the direction, and well pretty much everything about this film. I cannot recommend 'Hotel Rwanda' enough.
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