By Al Kratina
November 7, 2006 - 20:43
Nevertheless, despite the missed opportunities, The Last King Of Scotland manages to be a good film. James McAvoy plays Nicholas Garrigan, a recent med school graduate who goes to Uganda in search of adventure. Instead, he finds a lot of sick kids and Scully from The X-Files, which is about as adventurous as filing your taxes without an accountant. A chance encounter with infamous dictator/cannibal Idi Amin leads to him taking a job as Amin's personal physician, where he turns a blind eye to the tragedies and atrocities surrounding him, absorbed in his own life and his cultural tourism. The interesting part of the film is that as he gradually becomes aware of the goings on, so do we. The viewer is not privileged to information the character isn't, and our world expands with his. And it expands to included dismembered female corpses rather quickly.
McAvoy’s performance is a strong approximation of Ewan McGregor, but it's Forest Whitaker as Amin who really stands out in the film. His mix of charisma and clammy-faced insanity is simultaneously alluring and horrifying, like a serial killer that smells like donuts. The film is shot in that hand-held, pseudo-documentary style that seems par for the course for any film set in the third world. Director Kevin Macdonald is comfortable with the realistic style, and coaxes strong performances from his cast. The script mirrors the realism of the mise-en-scene, presenting no heroes in the film, only characters we can believe in and whose behavior we can relate to. And while relating to a dismembered female corpse may be difficult, here it's handled as well as it ever has been before.
Rating: 8 /10