The Last King of Scotland
You've known me for quite some time now, Kay (Kerry Washington). And during that time you've known me to be a very open and honest person. Heck, one of the main reasons I came to your country in the first place, was because I wanted to help out Sarah Merrit (Gillian Anderson) and her husband run their medial clinic over in the townships.
Then one day something happened to me, didn't it, my dear? Out of the blue I was approached by your husband, Idi Amin (Forest Whtaker, who asked me to work for him as his own personal physician. Well, what could I say to the recently appointed president of Uganda? 'Sorry, Bwana. But I don't want to work for you because I hear your a bit of a prick'! Nah. I couldn't say that, could I?
Now please don't get me wrong, Kay. I'm not trying to say that I wasted my time whilst I was working for him. As luck would have it, I did help cure your son of his asthma problem, as well as advise your other half with some issues he was having with the Dutch plus the local guerrilla regimes.
And then it stuck me. BANG! Your husband was a b*stard. Your husband was a cold hearted b*stard who was torturing his own people just to further his own gain. So just like any other good Scotsman I decided to report my findings to the local English Ambassador.
But was this act too hasty of me, Kay? Or am I heading for a whole world full of trouble? Come on. Tell me something, princess. Tell me that I won't get my head caved in like the rest.
Yet again, that's most probably why what next transpires all goes 'Ock-ei-me-nu' when you glimpse into my sad looking eyes and say, 'Doctor Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy). Can you please be quite now and make love to me'. As a few personal transgressions are spotted - drugs dealings in the provinces are swatted - injured men go with the herd to Palestine - and at the end of the day, a Ugandan leader is unveiled as some sort of Frankenstein.
Without beating about the bush I'd say 'The Last King of Scotland' was the worst film I've ever seen conveying a Scottish tale. Most of the cast where black and never sported red hair. None of them could speak with a decent Scottish accent -- except for Forest Whitaker. Plus the landscapes and the scenery were just so disparagingly sunny and pleasing on the eyes.
Ha! I'm just kidding you, folks. To paraphrase what I really feel about this movie in a Scottish brogue, ‘Tis’ a grand film mi laddie, with all di gusto of Robert de Bruce on a wee Highland morn’. Oh yes. I did enjoy sitting down and watching this flick, film fans. From my perspective it's one of those well polished bio-pics with some spectacular looking visuals, a great bunch of actors, plus a rather meandering yet cleverly told premise.
Well, for those of you not in the know, James McAvoy’s character never existed in real life. Not in the form in which he was depicted in, anyway. However, the cleaver thing this story does is to use this role as a 'story telling device' to tell a real life tale through. And this, in turn, inadvertently transformed it into another film I really-really love -- Miloš Forman's version of 'Amadeus' -- by piecing together a series of events within a context of a real man’s life, and then showing this through the eyes of a contrary perspective.
OK. I'm sure there are some of you out there who would have much rather preferred it if this tale was told from Idi's point of view. But please note, if the filmmakers did that, the overall story would never have been able to avoid the usual pitfalls bio-pic's normally fall in to. Like the fractured time-shifts. The amalgamation of characters. Plus the tampering of the tone for dramatic effect.
Also, something else about this movie I best mention was how the main cast members aided the plot in both scope and substance. I thought James played the role of a naive doctor just sublimely throughout, as he managed to lead us though his journey in a very associative manner. Forest is also additionally breathtaking as the main man himself, Idi Amin, and likewise manages to capture the same mirthful spirit this complete and utter nutter once had. And as for the rest of the cast on the other hand, well, even though some of them were rather fleeting in appearance, and seemed to be used as exposition points, by in large most of them were able to give this film some grounding, and elevate the whole project to more than just ‘another bio-pic’ status. Especially Kerry Washington and Gillian Anderson.
Anyway. By now I'm sure you know my feelings towards this great-great movie. So for the time being please relax, sit back, and check out the following filmic facts. (1) 'Fox Searchlight' first screened this six million dollar production at the 'Telluride Film Festival' -- based in America -- on the 1st of September, 2006, and eventually clawed back forty-five million dollars at the box office. (2) The majority of this movie was shot on location throughout numerous parts of Uganda and the United Kingdom. (3) According to the director of this film, Kevin Macdonald, the then president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, was so besotted with the idea of shooting this movie in his country, he actually gave Kevin carte blanche to make it as accurately as possible. (4) Forest Whitaker once told journalists that he stayed in character as Idi Amin even when he wasn't on set. (5) As much as this may be a mouthful to say, Idi Amin's full title was 'His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular". (6) In real life Idi never had a Scottish doctor tend to any of his ailments. He did have a number of British doctors though. And it is believed that the character James McAvoy plays in this film, Dr. Nicholas Garrigan, is loosely based on a British soldier and diplomat called Bob Astles, who Idi ultimately sent to prison for turning against him. (7) The real-life character played by Kerry Washington in this picture, Kay Amin, was impregnated and accidentally killed by her lover, Doctor Mbalu Mukasa, during a botched attempt at an abortion. Some time thereafter Mukasa allegedly committed suicide. (8) After this flick did the knuckle shuffle, Forest Whitaker lent his voice to the animated-adventure, 'Everyone's Hero'; James McAvoy starred in the rom-com, 'Penelope'; and Kerry Washington starred in the drama, 'The Dead Girl'.
Overall I'd say 'The Last King Of Scotland' was an amazing bio-pic about a somewhat amazing fruit-loop. The cast of actors were right on the money. The story-line and production values were both expansive and grand. And as push comes to shove, I'd like to leave the final word to the main main himself. So it's over to you, Idi. What do you feel about your film?
Ha! Nuff said.
THE RATING: A
Ha! Nuff said.
THE RATING: A