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The Last King of Scotland (2006)

December 22, 2008

Based on the novel by Giles Foden, The Last King of Scotland is inspired by true events from the brutal regime of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin as told by his personal physician in the early 70s.

Scottish director Kevin Macdonald directs fellow Scot, James McAvoy, as the fictitious Dr. Nicholas Garrigan, who sees Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker) as both charismatic and terrifyingly gruesome. While McAvoy is able to hold his own, acting-wise, against the fierce Amin portrayed by the Oscar-deserving Whitaker, he suffers from his youth; he looks like he belongs in high school and not believably a young doctor interested to help the plight of the African poor.

Gillian Anderson (more popularly known from The X-Files) has an understated role as Sarah Merrit, wife of the small town doctor whom Nicholas originally came to help. Her character pegs him from the beginning as not the sort anyone would think would come to Uganda to help in their mission. He proves her right later on.

While the audience could probably understand Nicholas’ restless need for adventure, it is difficult to relate with this antihero, especially as someone who is telling the story. The average person would probably not have done the things he did.

However, the painful truth surfaces when another doctor Djonjo tells Nicholas, “Go home and tell the truth about Amin. They will believe you. You are a white man.” The editing is crisp and the unraveling of the story is exciting. Filipinos can perhaps relate to the political atmosphere of that time. Watch this and be awakened by the brutality not only of actual blood spilled but also more horrifyingly, of quiet decisions we and our leaders make everyday.

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