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As Deeply Powerful A Psychological Drama As You'll Ever See
The Rwandan genocide has spawned a number of good films, from the docs "Shake Hands With The Devil" to "Hotel Rwanda", but none as personal and intimate and horrifying as this one.
"The Day God Walked Away" has two things going for it: a striking performance by singer Ruth Nirere as the Tutsi woman Jacqueline, and the direction by first-timer Philippe Van Leeuw that steers clear of commentary and simply shows. Jacqueline works as a domestic for a Belgium family, and in the film's opening scenes we see them preparing to flee the country as the looting and violence draws closer. Jacqueline is sent hiding in the attic in a scene that uses sound so disturbingly well to paint a picture of what's happening outside that the dread grips us and never lets us go. From then on we follow Jacqueline on her odyssey through the countryside, where she discovers the remains of her dead children, sleeps in forests, nurses a wounded man of her own tribe back to health, is fired upon by local Hutu militants.
But the movie is about so much more than those simple plot details. At it's heart it is a film not so much about a victim of unimaginable cruelty and indignity so much as it is about a proud and brave woman who wills herself to endure and rise above the madness, the despair, the nightmare of being terrorized. Ruth Nirere, like Charlize Theron in "Monster" or Mickey Rourke in "The Wrestler" or Hilary Swank in "Boys Don't Cry", gives us one of those inspired performances that never once reminds us that we're actually watching an actor at work.
"The Day God Walked Away" is gut-wrenching and inspiring, and it takes just the right approach by seeing the genocide through the eyes of one character. This movie deserves to go on the final list of films nominated for best foreign language film.
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