Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
United Kingdom/USA/Italy/South Africa, 2004. United Artists, Lions Gate Films, Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa, Miracle Pictures, Inside Track Films, Mikado Film, Endgame Entertainment, Lionsgate. Screenplay by Keir Pearson, Terry George. Cinematography by Robert Fraisse. Produced by Terry George, A. Kitman Ho. Music by Afro Celt Sound System, Rupert Gregson-Williams, Andrea Guerra. Production Design by Johnny Breedt, Tony Burrough. Costume Design by Ruy Filipe. Film Editing by Naomi Geraghty.
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.
Academy Award Nominations: Best Actor (Don Cheadle); Best Supporting Actress (Sophie Okonedo); Best Original Screenplay
European Film Award: Best European Composer
Golden Globe Award Nominations: Best Picture-Drama; Best Actor-Drama (Don Cheadle); Best Original Song (“Million Voices”)
Screen Actors Guild Award Nominations: Outstanding Motion Picture Cast; Best Actor (Don Cheadle); Best Supporting Actress (Sophie Okonedo)
Toronto International Film Festival: 2004