Forest Whitaker puts on quite the bravura show as Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. We’re meant to be frightened by the monster, and to Evan Smith in Texas Monthly, Whitaker said this: “I knew that I was playing a really intense character. He was brutal at times. I guess I didn’t know what the effect would be on other people...the other actors were uneasy, not knowing what was going to happen inside a scene. I think it really fed the movie.” Surprising his fellow actors with unplanned bits of explosion, incorporating in his dialogue things Amin actually uttered, including Kiswahili phrases and colloquialisms, there’s still this super heavy load of theatricality about Whitaker—he’s aping his way through the drama and it’s not an accident: he’s so often photographed to suggest that he’s a gorilla that you wait for some kind of connection and sure enough it comes at the conclusion, when the real Amin appears on screen. The impressive blustering by Whitaker won him the Oscar, but later we’ll wonder if the Academy didn’t go a bit far in honoring a performance about a murderous ape, just as some of those members are now expressing regret that Anthony Hopkins’ cannibal earned recognition. Directed by Kevin Macdonald, written by Jeremy Brock (who also wrote Judi Dench’s Mrs. Brown) and assisted by Peter Morgan, who wrote 2006’s The Queen. James McAvoy plays the young, foolish doctor. In blond hair, Gillian Armstrong is barely recognizable. The Last King of Scotland, more fiction than fact, is the first Western movie to be filmed in Uganda since John Huston’s The African Queen.

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Text COPYRIGHT © 2007 RALPH BENNER  All Rights Reserved.