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Starring
Don Cheadle
as Paul Rusesabagina

Sophie Okonedo
as Tatiana Rusesabagina

Nick Nolte
as Colonel Oliver

Joaquin Phoenix
as Jack Daglish

Desmond Dube
as Dube

Hakeem Kae-Kazim
as George Rutaganda

Tony Kgoroge
as Gregoire

Fana Mokoena
as General Bizimungu

Written by Keir Pearson and Terry George

Directed by Terry George

Running Time: 2:01

Rated PG-13
for violence, disturbing images
and brief strong language..

B


THE OPENING

Hotel Rwanda was a moving true story of what happened in a three month period in 1994 in war torn Rwanda.

THE STORY

When the Dutch first settled in Rwanda, they put the Tutsi people in charge, but when they left the country, the Hutu people were put into power. Immediately they started to get revenge on the Tutsis for the way they were treated earlier. Now, the Tutsis have started to rebel against the Hutu power and all hell is breaking loose within Rwanda. Paul Rusesabagina, a Hutu married to a Tutsi, works at a posh hotel in Rwanda that caters to the best of the best. He is forced to act to save a countless number of people, both Hutu and Tutsi, and while at first he wishes he could just save his family and leave, he realizes that he can not leave thousands of people to die without trying to help.

THE REVIEW

What amazed me most about Hotel Rwanda is how recently all the events took place. 1994 was not that long ago, and the idea that over a million people were slaughtered over such a short period of time, and no one did anything about it is almost unbelievable. And they make mention of that in the movie. A cameraman manages to take some footage of people being killed in the streets, and Paul thinks that as soon as the rest of the world sees the video, they'll be forced to act. But the cameraman knows better. He says that people will watch, think, my God, that's horrible, then go right back to their dinner. And it's true. Yes, there are a number of people all over the world that would want to act, to do something, but the majority of people in the world don't feel like acting unless something is happening in their own backyard. Which is why it's up to people like Paul to do what they can to help their own people survive. And sometimes people like Paul are shoved into action to save themselves first, then save everyone else.

Paul, as played by Don Cheadle, is a nice guy who tries to make everyone happy. If you need something from the hotel he manages, it's yours. But he knows deep down inside that someday there may be trouble, so his helpfulness isn't all just because he's nice; he's saving up favors for when he needs help himself. He's been around long enough to know when to push and when to lay back and wait. Cheadle, not normally a leading actor, carries himself very well in Hotel Rwanda. You can see in his eyes how he wishes he could take his family and leave, but it torn between saving himself, and saving those around him. He can't leave his friends and neighbors behind even if that selfless act could get him killed. Throughout the entire movie, he holds up very well under the pressure, until he sees hundreds of dead bodies littered on the road. Then, in one very moving and Oscar worthy scene, he completely breaks down from the world of pressure that's been put on his shoulders.

The supporting cast was decent, but this movie is all about Cheadle's character. Familiar faces, such as Jean Reno, Nick Nolte and Joaquin Phoenix appear, but I get the feeling they were asked to be in the film to help sell it. Nolte's character was especially good as the leader of a U.N. peace keeping force. His hands were tied and he looks confused as to why he was even there. The film was shot nicely, but you could tell there was a lot taken out to achieve a PG-13 rating. While you heard a lot about the atrocities, you didn't see a lot of actual violence. We saw the end results, but there weren't a lot of scenes of people getting their heads cut off or shot. In some ways, had those scenes been in the film, it might have heightened the frightfulness of the situation and made for a more powerful movie. But at the same time, it could have been seen as exploitative and taken away from the story. While the movie was compelling, I still felt like I was being kept an arms length away. I never really felt like I was in the middle of the story. Paul was so calm and collected that beyond the one breakdown scene where he let himself go, there were only small hints of emotion. I think allowing him to feel more, to show the horror through his emotions, would have made the movie touch me more.

THE BOTTOM LINE

So overall, I felt Hotel Rwanda was a very well made, well acted film. It showcased a horror that took place not too long ago and makes you realize that things like this happened all over the world even now. But I wish the filmmakers had allowed me to feel closer to the characters instead of making me feel like I was on the outside looking in.

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Hotel Rwanda

$18.89 DVD

We Wish to Inform You
That Tomorrow We Will be
Killed With Our Families:
Stories from Rwanda

$10.20 Paperback

Hotel Rwanda: Bringing the True
Story of an African Hero to Film

$13.57 Paperback

Eyewitness to a Genocide:
The United Nations and Rwanda

$12.21 Paperback
reviewed 04/24/05

© 2005 Wolfpack Productions

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