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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > History > Dictatorship > Genocide > The Last King Of Scotland (DVD-Video)

The Last King Of Scotland (DVD-Video)

 

Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: B     Film: B

 

 

It looks like Forrest Whitaker has been one of Hollywood’s best kept secrets for years.  Since the early 1980s, he has slowly found himself an exceptional supporting player, a director of hit movies like Waiting To Exhale, the highlight of many a hit commercial film like Phone Booth, Panic Room, Species and Robert Altman’s Ready To Wear and even a formidable lead in great films like Jim Jarmusch’s  Ghost Dog.  His triumph as Idi Amin in Kevin Macdonald’s The Last King Of Scotland is no surprise, as the culmination of his acting skills hits a new high with a huge challenge.

 

James McAvoy plays a Scottish doctor who comes to Uganda to help people in need.  He is both naïve and highly idealistic about how he can help, but little does he know the changes that are about to happen in the country as its new President Idi Amin takes over.  Then they meet, Amin turning out to be a huge fan of Scotland of all things, wanting him to be his personal doctor and then a political advisor.

 

The whole situation plays out like a perverse version of the musical classic The King & I leaning more towards the darkness of the earlier non-Musical Anna & The King Of Siam.  Amin is this charismatic leader with a dark underside and is far more genocidal than the good doctor could ever imagine.  As the two become more involved, the secret plotting of Amin becomes more and more obvious.  The film never shies away from the implications or the massive deaths that result behind the smile and lies of progress that never was.

 

Then there is Whitaker’s performance.  He has the physicality to do the role, but that does not guarantee knowing what to do with it.  Instead, in scene after scene, moments after moment, he delivers a performance that just will not quit and is so strong that it exposes the limits of the film itself.  Though it is a really good film, Whitaker’s energy and intensity eventually gets a few steps ahead of it and the resulting portrait of Amin is vivid and stunning.

 

I also liked the supporting work of both Gillian Anderson as the volunteer who is interested in the good doctor, the people and knows doom is closer than he does and Kerry Washington bolder than it first seems as Kay Amin.  Acting and performances are good all around, making The Last King Of Scotland one of the most interesting films of 2006.

 

The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image was shot in Super 16mm by Anthony Dod Mantle and edited by Justine Wright in a more effective use of the scope frame than most digital and Super 35mm productions we saw all of last year.  This transfer is a tad softer than it should be for Super 16, but looks good otherwise thanks to the source.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix sports good ambient surrounds, as well as a good score by Alex Heffes and some strong surround moments.  Extras include feature length audio commentary by director Macdonald, who offers the same as an option on deleted scenes, Capturing Idi Amin featurette, Forest Whitaker Featurette, the Fox Movie Channel’s Casting Session - The Last King of Scotland and both theatrical & international trailers.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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