Saturday 17 June 2023

Movie Review: Hotel Rwanda (2004)

Genre: Biographical Genocide Drama
Director: Terry George
Starring: Don Cheadle, Sophie Okonedo, Nick Nolte, Joaquin Phoenix, Jean Reno
Running Time: 121 minutes

Synopsis: It's 1994, and Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle) is a manager at the prestigious Belgian-owned Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali, Rwanda. Ethnic tensions erupt into genocide as majority Hutu militias unleash death on the Tutsi minority. Paul and his wife Tatiana (Sophie Okonedo) offer refuge at the hotel to anyone escaping the carnage, eventually sheltering more than 800 people. Paul has to keep his guests safe from a bloodthirsty militia leader and an army general, while the understaffed United Nations peacekeeping mission under Colonel Oliver (Nick Nolte) struggles to get the world's attention.

What Works Well: Based on actual events, director Terry George and his co-writer Keir Pearson chisel a story of personal courage out of the horrors of human brutality. Avoiding gore and side-stepping sentimentality, the narrative traces a country's harrowing disintegration and Rusesabagina countering with resourceful kindness in the face of adversity. Don Cheadle bundles audacity and quick thinking into a masterful portrayal of initiative under extreme pressure, and Nick Nolte provides crusty support as the UN commander loosely inspired by Canadian General Romeo Dallaire. The film spares no shame in exposing the value of black African lives in the world's calculus.

What Does Not Work As Well: The depiction of a genocide that took 800,000 lives in three months is primarily confined to bloodless abstract victims.

Conclusion: Delivers individual hope and collective despair in equal measures.

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