Combustible Celluloid
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With: James McAvoy, Forest Whitaker, Kerry Washington, Gillian Anderson, Simon McBurney
Written by: Jeremy Brock, Peter Morgan, Joe Penhall, based on a novel by Giles Foden
Directed by: Kevin Macdonald
MPAA Rating: R for some strong violence and gruesome images, sexual content and language
Running Time: 121
Date: 09/01/2006

The Last King of Scotland (2006)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Mean Amin

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A young Scottish doctor, Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy), randomly flits off to Uganda in the early 1970s looking for fun and adventure. While working for a local mission, he becomes enthralled by the country's new president, General Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker). Through an odd series of coincidences and encounters, Amin invites Garrigan to become his personal physician, though Garrigan has no idea that Amin will turn out to be a horrible monster, responsible for countless deaths. Oscar-winning documentarian Kevin Macdonald (One Day in September, Touching the Void) makes his feature debut here, based on Giles Foden's novel, and it's a curious piece of work, part biopic, part history lesson and part Hitchcockian thriller. Unfortunately, Macdonald is not skilled enough to meld the three, and we're left with increasingly absurd lurches of plot. The cocky Garrigan is not much of a character (he might be more at home on an "extreme" reality show) but Whitaker delivers a ferocious, intoxicating performance as Amin. He demonstrates how this monster, through incredible charisma and charm, could seduce just about anyone to his cause. Additionally, Gillian Anderson co-stars with a new kind of sexy vulnerability as one of the mission workers during the film's first section.

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