Monday, September 28, 2009

The Last King of Scotland (2006)


Looking to make a difference, new doctor Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy), joins a mission in Uganda during the 1970s. Soon, a chance encounter with the new dictator, Idi Amin (Forrest Whitaker), changes his fate as he soon commissioned to be the personal doctor for the man, and a close adviser. As a strange friendship builds between them, Garrigan must face the harsh truths behind Amin, and the real cost of his job.

It's taken me forever to get around to watching this film. It's basically what I expected it to be, nothing more or less. McAvoy delivers a solid performance as what is really the lead character, forced to hold his own against an outstanding performance by Forrest Whitaker. I have to admit I was openly cheering for Whitaker to win, but after having seen the film I wonder why the oscars do best actor the way they do. Sure how films are credit is right 90% of the time, but movies like this where top billing is given to a bigger actor for marketing reasons, I feel the other actors are a bit robbed of a fair chance.

Whitaker probably would have won Best Supporting Actor anyways, the guy is just insanely superb (granted Alan Arkin's win is still puzzling) in all his films, let alone this one. I enjoyed Macdonald's simple substance over style approach, taking his time with the story, analyzing and building the characters. Yet in the script the movie's pacing just feels off. Events come and go, some feeling important, others unnecessary. It's not until the film begins to reach its final run that it finds a strong coherent narrative. It as at this time that we're really let into the minds of the main characters, and really get to see their true nature. Their strengths, weaknesses, all of which have been hinted at until now, come into play and the movie becomes a rather rewarding experience.

Yet, for all the scenes I enjoyed, I was never really blown away. No strong emotional connection, no depressing heartache for the pain of the people, just someone watching Garrigan's story. That's not to say the movie is overly flawed. It's solidly written, well directed, and has amazing acting, but combined they don't over exceed into perfection. A fine film, whose acting makes up for all its flaws, well worth a viewing.

A great film, with an epic performance from Whitaker, but never takes the next step into something classic, The Last King of Scotland is well worth the view.

1 better thoughts:

DEZMOND said...

together with Jude Law, Ewan McGregor, Hugh Dancy and Dougray Scott, James McAvoy is one of my favourite British actors. I hope he'll get some bigger, demanding roles in the future. He was, off course, the bright star of THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND.

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