Wednesday, February 3, 2010
The Last King of Scotland (2006)
In the early 1970s, Nicholas Garrigan, a young semi-idealistic Scottish doctor, comes to Uganda to assist in a rural hospital. Once there, he soon meets up with the new President, Idi Amin, who promises a golden age for the African nation. Garrigan hits it off immediately with the rabid Scotland fan, who soon offers him a senior position in the national health department and becomes one of Amin's closest advisers. However as the years pass, Garrigan cannot help but notice Amin's increasingly erratic behavior that grows beyond a legitimate fear of assassination into a murderous insanity that is driving Uganda into bloody ruin. Realizing his dire situation with the lunatic leader unwilling to let him go home, Garrigan must make some crucial decisions that could mean his death if the despot finds out.
Forest Whitaker is the main reason to see this film based on the real-life dictator, Idi Amin, known for having 300,000 Ugandans slaughtered. It delves deeply into the corruption of the soul that comes from too much power, money and fame. This applies not only to Amin, but a fictional young Scottish doctor(James McAvoy), working in a clinic serving the poor. He becomes a pawn of Amin and through bribery ends up serving as his personal physician, his head of security and his political spokesman at times. The doctor is naive, innocent and careless, and takes very dangerous chances that most will see as unbelievable. The film becomes heart-pounding when one particularly crazy sexual encounter ends up going over the edge, but it helps enlighten him to the leader's brutality. Forest Whitaker's take on the tyrant is gripping and hypnotic. He goes from boundless charm one moment and morphs into a murderer the next. The story is based on a successful novel and adapted for the screen by Peter Morgan and Jeremy Brock. Ironically, Morgan also wrote the script for "The Queen", and both stars, Mirren for "Queen" and Whitaker for "King" are Oscar nominated. There is some very graphic gore, but how could there not be in a tale about the dual nature of a man who is charismatic and killer all in one.