(out of 5)
In 1994 Rwanda, Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle) goes about his business managing the four-star Hotel Milles Collines and tries to ignore the growing unrest between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes of his country. Signs of serious trouble keep showing up that he tries to be optimistic about until a full-out genocide of the Tutsi people begins and the United Nations sets up shop in his hotel. Rusesabagina, a Hutu with a Tutsi wife, manages to save his neighbours from slaughter through cunning and on-the-spot swindling, setting them up at the Milles Collines while other Tutsi refugees continue to pour in looking for asylum. Still thinking the UN will help these people get out, our protagonist and the people he is protecting are devastated when they learn that the troops are only pressed to get the American and European citizens out of the country to safety but are to leave Rwandans where they are. Through a series of bribes and continued swindling, Rusesabagina somehow miraculously manages to keep 1268 from a genocide that saw a million people slaughtered with machete knives while the western world looked on, unmotivated to intervene by the lack of any reciprocal benefits for their own countries. This inspirational, terrifying tale is reminiscent of the great political thrillers of the early eighties (The Killing Fields, Missing); while it suffers a little from a lack of directorial power, it tells a story so incredible that the events speak for themselves. Cheadle is incredibly good, a performance that reaches deep into the soul of this man who overcame his first instinct to only save himself and his family and instead saved generations, and he is ably supported by Sophie Okonedo, marvelous as his wife, Cara Seymour as a Red Cross representative and cameos by Joaquin Phoenix and Nick Nolte.
Directed by Terry George
Screenplay by Keir Pearson, Terry George
Cinematography by Robert Fraisse
Produced by Terry George, A. Kitman Ho
Costume Design by Ruy Filipe
Film Editing by Naomi Geraghty