Shake Hands With The Devil (2007)

ROGER SPOTTISWOODE

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

Canada, 2007.  Barna-Alper Productions, Halifax Film Company, Seville Productions.  Screenplay by , based on the book by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

United Nations Lt. General Romeo Dallaire () sits in a psychiatrist’s office, wracked with guilt over the events that he then flashes back to, concerning his experiences as head of the Peacekeeping operation during the Rwandan genocide. Arriving in Kigali with the highest of optimistic hopes to keep rival tribes of Tutsis and Hutus from breaking out into civil war, Dallaire eventually finds himself restrained by non-committal orders from his superiors and general ignorance from the world at large. As we all now know so well, fighting did break out and the systematic murder of approximately a million Rwandans stained the face of the nation, with Dallaire and a few hundred volunteers staying in the country to do their best to protect people after the United Nations orders them out. This high-quality drama, based on Dallaire’s book of the same name and its subsequent documentary adaptation, does a much better job of capturing the urgency, panic and tragedy of the period it covers than Hotel Rwanda did. A dramatic film can never capture the direct nature of a book or a documentary, but this one does a great job of keeping up with its predecessors by taking very little poetic license and focusing on the events as they occur.  It might not be the most impassioned political film ever made, but it’s a high achievement of intelligence and class that does honour to its subject matter.

Toronto International Film Festival:  2007

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