The Last King of Scotland

Wow. This film felt like a punch to the stomach, and strangely enough that’s a good thing.

The film could be said to be about Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker), but the main character is really Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy), a newly-minted doctor who decides that anywhere in the world would be better than staying in Scotland and working for his doctor father. In fact, adventure is exactly what he’s looking for when he arrives in Uganda just as Amin has taken over the country in 1971. The people Nicholas talks to seem genuinely happy about Amin, thinking he will treat the people better than the previous ruler.

Nicholas has arranged to help out a doctor and his wife (the latter played by Gillian Anderson) in a rural area where most prefer witch doctors to the Western kind. But he ends up becoming Amin’s personal doctor after a chance meeting. It turns out that Amin feels a great affinity for the Scots.

Whitaker’s Amin demonstrates just how far charisma and power can go to seduce people into, well, almost anything. But assuming you’ve heard Amin’s name before, you also know the early lighthearted scenes only serve to contrast with the darkness to come.

Whitaker deserves his likely Oscar® nomination, and McAvoy is also excellent. The film felt very well constructed to me. Combined with the amazing performances by the two leads, this clearly rose to the level of 4 stars (out of 4) for me.

Seen 1/21/2007. Note that one or two brief scenes were too gruesome for me to watch, so be warned.

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One Response to “The Last King of Scotland”

  1. My Kids Planet Says:

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