It is a rare thing for me to leave a movie theater really angry. It is even rarer that this anger is a good thing. I have a habit in my old age of becoming complacent and taking an outsiders view of events. Hotel Rwanda smacked me upside the head in a major way and reminded me that this is a dangerous stance sometimes. It made me cry. It made me want to scream. It made me think. It made me want to take notice and get involved.
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This is a story based on real events.
You may or may not recall an episode of the original Star Trek where there was a war between two sets of people who had faces half black/half white. One had the white half on the left, one on the right. This was their race wars. At the time folks figured how stupid was that? The allegory was obvious but yet... yeah. Here we still are... and here it still happens over stupid things everyday.
This war occurred in Rwanda about 10 years ago. It was two factions: The Tutsi and the Hutus. They were both black. The difference? One group had wide noses, the other thin noses. This happened. In the 1990s. In this time of supposed enlightened societies and the Internet and all that great stuff....over a million people were slaughtered for having the wrong size nose. (yeah there's a little history there but this is what it boils down to in the end, dunnit)
In the midst of this genocidal frenzy was one man. A hotel manager named Paul Rusesabagina. This man stepped in and gave shelter to those being hunted down and did his best to protect them, while the US, England, France and who knows who else pulled their own people out to safety while leaving these poor folks there to die horrible deaths.
Rusesabagina was deftly portrayed by Don Cheadle. This man amazed me, both the actor and the character he portrayed. Rusesabagina is a hero and Cheadle gave him his due in this performance. I was watching Rusesabagina, not Cheadle, and that is the true mark of a great actor, isn't it? I felt his anger, his pain, his fear, his utter frustration.. all of it.
The entire cast was tremendous. They took this project to heart. They all put you right there in the middle of it. If this movie doesn't win a ton of awards I'll I'll.. well.. I'll be even more disgusted with the system than I already am. A few names you will recognize are Nick Nolte as a UN Colonel, and Joaquin Phoenix as a news cameraman. Both great here, but the real stars are the ones you may not recognize such as Sophie Okonedo as Paul's wife. Outfreakinstanding.
Kudos to Director Terry George, who also co-wrote this one. He hasn't done a lot in the past, but this will stand out for his entire career I'm sure. I cannot praise him enough.
This runs 121 mesmerizing minutes and is Rated PG-13 on appeal for violence, disturbing images and brief strong language. It is very disturbing. It should be very disturbing. It should also be seen by everyone. Discuss it with your kids. make them understand how ridiculous prejudice is and how important it is to pay attention to just what the hell your government is doing... or not doing.
After they see this, people are gonna say 'my god thats terrible' and then go on eating their dinners.
Like I said, I left this theater angry. Very angry. At my country, at your country, at government agencies in general. I was embarrassed to be an American after watching this. This is a powerful movie. Watch it. Absorb it. Do it now. Five stars.
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