Rwanda 1994. The genocide of the Hutus and the Tutsis sadly commenced. The Hutu militia broke the peace of the country as they started killing any Tutsis in their sight as they called them “cockroaches”. This all goes back to when Belgium took the country and sorted out the Rwandan people by shades of colour, nose size and more as it is briefly explained at the beginning of the film.

Hotel Rwanda however does not focus on the graphicness of the wars or the humanity that occurred. It focuses on the true-life story of Paul Rusesabagina and his amazing, heroic struggle. Don Cheadle plays Paul Rusesabagina magnificently as a hotel manager who housed over 1000 Tutsis in the Hotel Des Milles Collines. When all hell broke loose on Rwandan soil, he was there to shelter people in need.

Hotel Rwanda is not only an amazingly done drama but is also educational. It shows the real life events with all the details showing how France, England, Canada, and the U.N helped during the disaster. Nick Nolte plays Colonel Oliver, a Canadian soldier from the U.N who is there at the beginning of the film to help with the peace agreement. Later on, him and other Canadian soldiers are relied to help Paul and the rest of the people during the wars. His character is roughly based on the Canadian war hero Romeo Dallaire who wrote his award winning book, Shaking Hands with the Devil. Nick Nolte’s performance is fabulous as he brings Colonel Oliver to life.

Sophie Okonedo superbly plays Tatiana, Paul’s wife as she gives a stunning performance. She truly did a magnificent job with her stellar, dramatic talent revealed from this film. Joaquin Phoenix gives a gratifying, exceptional performance as an American cameraman there to visually capture the wars on film.

The real story here is Don Cheadle. With his absolutely extraordinary role, he carries the film on his shoulders. Definitely an astonishing, breathtaking performance, which is one of the best of the year. Don Cheadle’s performance is so moving, emotional and so remarkable that he is at his absolute best ever.

The film’s flaws are hardly noticed. During the intro, it has the documentary feel and seems hard to get into but after only 5 minutes, you get inside Rwanda and live the strong story of survival and heroic, epic events. Also, from a film like this, I expected more inspirational speeches from Paul Rusesabagina, but his actions and his emotions displayed are more than enough to compensate.

The film’s cinematography and editing are well down. The direction Terry George brings to the screen is a calm but strong feel that sternly keeps you in the film as there is no place in the film without a small slight of suspense or tension. Even at some parts of this film, the constant, building tension is relieved with some nice jokes that fit right in. Terry George and his partner Keir Pearson cleverly do this as they beautifully bring their screenplay to life. One thing I loved about this film was during the most emotional times, the songs with the African children singers added to an already perfect atmosphere of sadness or emotional struggle. It was truly beautiful when these songs played as we watched the actions of Paul and his wife at the same time.

This film currently sits at #8 on my Best of the 2000’s chart, as it is truly that good. One thing that absolutely got me furious was that this film was not nominated for Best Picture for this year’s Oscars. With filth like Finding Neverland in the category, I really wonder how the Academy snubbed this one out. This film will never be forgotten, as I will undoubtedly buy this film on the first day its DVD is released.

Overall, Hotel Rwanda is a truly moving, stunning and inspirational masterpiece. The acting is some of the best this year and Terry George does a superb direction job. As for Oscars, Don Cheadle got a nomination for this role and I’m truly proud for saying that. Even more so for Sophie Okonedo as she truly did a magnificent job for a supporting role. This year, I hope either Don Cheadle or Jamie Foxx (for his absolutely extraordinary role for Ray) win Best Actor and I hope Sophie Okonedo takes the Best Supporting Actress statue. As for Best Original Screenplay, Hotel Rwanda can easily take it if it can beat Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. On a closing note, I must say that I strongly recommend that all should view this masterpiece as it educates everyone on the disasters that occurred back in ’94. If you truly believe and have faith, the extraordinary can be accomplished and Paul Rusesabagina proved this to us.

 

Credit goes to Eliason A

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