Saturday, July 5, 2008

Hotel Rwanda

Hotel Rwanda; Drama, UK/ USA/ Italy/ South Africa, 2004; D: Terry George, S: Don Cheadle, Sophie Okonedo, Fana Mokoena, Nick Nolte, Joaquin Phoenix, Desmond Dube, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Jean Reno

Kigli, the capital of Rwanda, '94. Paul Rusesabagina is a successful manager of hotel des Mille Collines nurturing ties with influential people. He is a Hutu, a majority nation of Rwanda that is increasingly hostile towards the Tutsi minority because they once helped the Belgian colonist. Suddenly Hutu extremist start massacring Tutsi people. Paul hides a few Tutsi refugees in his home since his wife Tatiana is also one of them and bribes the Interhamwe into letting them go. With time, hundreds of Tutsi refugees are secretly sheltered in his hotel. Using his ties with the French hotel owner and general Bizimungu, Paul gets protection from wild Hutu gangs. After he has no more money to bribe anyone, he persuades UN Colonel to transport all hotel staff to safety.

"Hotel Rwanda" isn't anything extraordinary since it's a rather routinely, clumsy and lazily directed drama, but one simply has to praise it for its brave take on history lessons that few people know about. It's less engaging as a film and much more engaging as a social commentary about the everlasting aggression of humans and passivity of the West when it comes to helping "insignificant" countries that don't bring any political points - the character of journalist Jack sums up the whole theme of the story in one chilling sentence when he talks about the images of Rwandan Genocide: "When the people see this images, they will say: "This is terrible". And then they will turn to finish their diner". The events unfolding around Paul Rusesabagina, the "Rwandan Schindler", are all intriguing because of their authenticity and real life origin showing how one person rose up during critical situation and made a difference by helping others in trouble. Precisely because of its humane touch and insight into Paul's skills that helped him cherish ties with influential people and subtly bring them into helping him does "Hotel Rwanda" work as a good achievement, but the most outstanding job was done by the underrated Don Cheadle who delivered an excellent performance in the leading role, for which he was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe.


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