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Anything I say in this review is probably redundant, because there
isn't a single negative review in all the comments so far here, and I
agree wholeheartedly with what has been said by other reviewers.
Nevertheless Hotel Rwanda is that rare kind of movie experience that doesn't easily relinquish its hold on the audience just because the credits have rolled. Watching with a friend, after ten minutes we had to pause the film because we decided we would be better served if we were more informed about what the basic facts of the conflict in Rwanda were. So to my shame, we had to read on the internet about what really happened, before we could continue. I say shame because we should have known, both of us were of an age when it happened to have taken more of an interest in world politics.
The film is beautifully understated, eschewing sentimentality in favour of raw emotion and letting the story tell itself. The acting was flawless - Don Cheadle's breathtaking performance being a particular standout - and the direction didn't falter, despite all the potential pitfalls of dramatising a recent and horrific conflict. The scenes which were hardest to watch in terms of tension and violence were often suffused with humour and hope.
It's difficult sometimes to separate the significance of the true story, from the artistry of the product, and often I get impatient with 'worthy' movies scoring big at Oscar time because it seems as though important stories ought to be rewarded, whether or not they make good films. However, I can't recall being so profoundly moved by a film since I saw The Grey Zone, and I hope Hotel Rwanda gets all the plaudits it deserves.
I have never been so touched by a movie. It was the hardest movie I have ever sat through but also the best. it's so easy to ignore human rights abuses if they are not happening to you or your family, but just because you ignore it, they are still happening. i hope this movie receives the praise it deserves. i am frustrated because nothing i can type can represent how powerful this movie is or how much it moved me. i can't comment on the amazing acting or cinematography or directing because the movie transported me. i did not think about the making of the movie but rather sat shocked and horrified and nauseated and inspired. there was the red cross agent. there were heroes and while human nature perverts and the thin veil of culture unravels, there is still good. i have to look at the good of the heroes in the movie and of the people that wrote the movie, and realize that going to the movies doesn't have to be about escapism. it can be about reality. this is a must-see, not because it will make you laugh but because it will make you think and feel.
I was fortunate to see this film at the Toronto Film Festival. I had
heard nothing about this film before I read up on it in the Fest guide
and originally was going to see something else. But, the subway
happened to shut down and I was not going to be able to see the film I
originally intended. So, I decided to give this a try.
And I am so very glad I did.
This film is by far the best drama I have seen all year, and indeed was the best film of the 11 I saw at the festival. It is gripping, heart-wrenching, and opens your eyes to so many things. Don Cheadle -- who I am a long time admirer of his work -- is phenomenal in the lead role, and I hope that he is nominated for Best Actor this year, because he certainly deserves it.
I am recommending this film to everybody I know and I hope that it gets a wide distribution because it certainly is a film that needs to be seen. While comparisons can be made to Schindler's List, I think that this film goes further to show that events like the Holocaust can happen any time -- even now -- so long as people look away, just as the UN did in Rwanda. It certainly makes one think about how easy it is for us to forget our history and allow it to be repeated, because (as one character says) we will watch it on TV, say that it is terrible, and go right on eating our dinner. 10/10
I have no doubt that this is the only movie for the past year that can get me totally, if not 101%, emotionally involved. For other movies, I might be interacting with the story a lot , say associating my personal experiences with the characters, making judgment on them, criticizing the development of the story, ways of expression, the cinematography, acting, etc. BUT, Hotel Rwanda simply took me over as I was watching it. My emotion was going along with Paul ( Don Cheadle) all the time. The director did a great great job in capturing the feelings of people facing uncertainty, horror, ridicules, anger, death, waning faith... Family, life and dignity/integrity become the largest things in the situation. What's more is that it squarely shows the realist thinking in international politics.It honestly shows the weakness or helplessness of the UN and the non-governmental organizations. It truthfully tells how indifferent most of the international community (or individuals, which may or may not include you and me) are towards the deprivation of social justice taking place in other parts of the world. It makes you question to what extent that it is true to say what we see ( the sufferings in the world) is what we tolerate. It shows you how monstrous human being can be. It scares you how sanity would fail. At the same time, the uglier the people become, the more beautiful you find those who have managed to keep brave and maintain humanity. The movie fully succeeds in showing me the spirit, faith, and compassion that the world is dreaming for.
The only comment I can give about this movie is - SEE IT. It's one of
the most heart wrenching, yet beautiful movies I've ever seen. I really
hope Don Cheadle and the movie receive Oscars! The acting is superb and
the fact this is based upon a true story only makes it better. You may
need some Kleenex as I was overwhelmed for a large part of this movie.
I had the honor of seeing this movie at a preview screening with the real "Paul" and his wife attending - what an absolute amazing experience to be in their presence. This movie will make you rethink everything about what it means to be human and how much we need to think about all our neighbours in this world.
Don't miss it!
I was fortunate to see it at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Hotel Rwanda starred Don Cheadle and was directed by Terry George. It's based on a true event, about Paul Rusesabagina, a Hutu who worked at four star hotel in Kigali. When the war broke out he thought of only saving his immediate family but as he saw what was happening he opened the hotel to Tutsi and Hutus seeking refuge from the killing. He used all the favours he had stored as manager of the hotel and basically saved over a thousand lives. This will be the next Schindler's list. When the film was over, there was a standing ovation. Don Cheadle was excellent as an ordinary man forced to do extra-ordinary things. Paul Rusesabagina and his family attended the screening and he received a five minute standing ovation. Even Michael Moore came to see this movie. I highly recommend it. 9/10.
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.
My Rating: 9/10 (A High 9)
I have just seen this film and have to say I am deeply moved by it. The
premise of the film is about one mans struggle to do the right thing at
when everything around him is going wrong.
Don Cheadle is the best African American actor out there. His passion and heart was so strong that moved me almost to tears. There is a definite wish here to let this story to be known to the world.
Its powerful and provocative in its indirect and subtle jabs at the west for not intervening into such a horror that took place in Rwanda.
Very well made and directed. Please see this and let it inspire you as it did me - to try cultivate selfless actions.
Thanks, Ricky Thind
Just saw the San Francisco premier last night and it isn't a
dramatization - it's much more of a documentary -- Hotel is extremely
factual. CAN'T SAY ENOUGH ABOUT THIS FILM! INCREDIBLE EXPERIENCE!
The Director and the story's protagonist were at the screening to answer questions. We ovated him for almost 10 minutes. Near the end of the q&a, an older man stood up and was called on. Slowly he commented that as a Tutsi, the movie gave him a lot to think about and that it may now be possible to find peace in his heart. The audience was stunned. And believe me, it takes a lot to silence a San Francisco audience.
One last comment, the film is indpendently made and distributed - no Hollywood involvement at all (Terry George is British). There will be no machine pumping out ads and radio anouncements about this one. Help get the word out - great film!
At one point in "Hotel Rwanda," our hero Paul Rusesabagina (Don
Cheadle) asks an American TV reporter (Joaquin Phoenix) how the western
world could not intervene after seeing scenes of women and children
being hacked by machete-wielding Hutu militia.
How could they not, indeed! As we all know, the west didn't intervene. Not surprising, really. After all, this was Africa and Rwanda had no oil reserves. The people being killed were innocent men, women and children, but they were poor and black.
A few years ago, former President Bill Clinton apologized to Rwandans for not intervening during the 100-day massacre that saw about one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus slaughtered in the most barbaric manner. It was gracious of Clinton, but a fat lot of good his apology did to the people who were killed and their families.
The Rwandan genocide - that's what it was, though western leaders split hairs over the meaning of genocide also was a black mark on western nations, which simply got their citizens out of Rwanda and then remained indifferent to the senseless killings.
Terry George's film gives us one story about the Rwandan genocide, of one hero, Paul, a savvy, clever and cunning manager of a swank, four-star Belgian hotel in the capital, Kigali. When the massacres began, Paul, a Hutu, sheltered more than 1,200 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in the hotel and saved them from the wrath of the bloodthirsty mobs.
Working from a smart script by Keir Pearson and George, "Hotel Rwanda" contains gutwrenching and emotionally trying moments not seen on the big screen since "Schindler's List" (1993). But whereas Spielberg's masterpiece was more arty and artistic - and I don't mean that pejoratively - George's film seems more immediate. Maybe it's because we now see a similar slaughter of poor, downtrodden people in the Darfur region of Sudan and, again, western nations aren't doing much other than threatening to rap the knuckles of the bad guys like angry teachers. This crisis gives "Hotel Rwanda" a sense of urgency.
As visceral as this film is at times, George handles everything in muted fashion. We never see the horrors firsthand. There's brief news footage of people being killed and one particularly searing scene when Paul and his bellhop Gregoire (Tony Kgoroge) find themselves on a bumpy road. The moment's made more horrifying because George unveils it quite matter-of-factly.
Making a PG-13 film about genocide requires numerous compromises. Putting most, if not all, of the violence off-camera is one such bargain George made. True, a closer look at the massacre would have rightly tortured us. But the film, nevertheless, works without gruesome moments. Pearson and George set out to make a story of heroism, survival, love and compassion amid the madness. And they succeeded.
Cheadle carries the entire film. There isn't a false note in his performance. For years, he's turned in one superb performance after another. He's one of those actors who never hits it wrong and whose performances always stand out even if the films themselves aren't all that memorable. Here, he's in equal measure the smooth manager, man with a conscience and frightened husband and father. You can sense Paul's frustration, though Cheadle rarely displays any vulnerability.
He gets great support from Sophie Okonedo as Paul's Tutsi wife, Tatiana, and Nick Nolte doing his best work in years as a Canadian United Nations officer, Colonel Oliver. Okonedo and Cheadle are utterly believable as a couple. They have one traumatic scene on the hotel roof, a quietly powerful moment that tugs at our heartstrings as we watch two people who love each other try to deal with what could happen. Okonedo conveys anger, fear and pain without ever turning the moment sentimental or needlessly overwrought. That's why the moment's shattering.
"Hotel Rwanda" isn't flawless. George doesn't harshly indict the west for its indifference. Also, some scenes, especially one near the film's end, seem staged for obvious dramatic effect, to play with our sense of sympathy and dread. But minor faults can easily be forgiven because the rest of the film works so well, never sensationalizing any moment. The film's straightforward approach gives it more power, makes it more trenchant and meaningful.
I would like to believe that we learn from history and the more powerful western nations will always come to the aid of oppressed people everywhere. But we're doing little in Darfur and although President George W. Bush openly touts his vision to spread liberty and democracy to oppressed peoples everywhere, I doubt he actually means it. After all, this freedom doctrine was something he created only after his initial justification for waging an unjust war - Iraq's supposed stockpiles of WMD - proved to be wholly without merit or fact. I doubt he actually considers bringing liberty to places like Zimbabwe or Burma. He speaks of the need for people to be free, conveniently ignoring some dictatorial nations - Pakistan and Turkmenistan, for instance - because they happen to be our allies. And so the dumb foreign policy continues.
I can only hope the success of "Hotel Rwanda" will prompt other gutsy screenwriters and filmmakers to tell us more stories about the horrors that took place and the complacency of industrialized nations that could have helped and chose not to.
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