Don’t miss ‘Last King?’
Anyone who’s in a mood for a bit of perspective, pay a visit to “The Last King of Scotland.” Actually, every American should see this movie. If you think you’re having a hard run of things, well – just be glad you’re not trapped in Uganda in the 1970s. And remember, the movie is based on real events.Nicolas (James McAvoy) is a fresh-faced Scottish med school grad who collects his diploma, goes home and puts his finger on a globe. His future is suddenly a quick game of spin and go, and he hopes to land someplace full of adventure and a little action. Nice work, Nicolas. Uganda it is. He shows up with his “I’m Scottish” T-shirt, his medical bag, stash of expertise, a healthy libido and a fair measure of arrogance. A kind, well-established white couple in a small village offer him a piece of their charitable medical operation where there’s plenty of children with infectious diseases to treat from dawn until dusk. It’s exhausting business and only a few days go by before Nicolas is trying to seduce Sarah the wife (Gillian Anderson) and spice up his routine a bit. The two attend a local mass gathering and celebration featuring newly elected Pres. Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker), the first leader in Uganda’s new government independent of British rule. Nicolas is suddenly summoned to the president’s aid when he is injured in a motorcade-versus-bull incident after the ceremony. Amin is immediately taken with the young doctor and his aggressive approach to medicine and er, putting wounded bulls out of their misery. It’s not difficult to see how Whitaker earned an Oscar nomination for this role. The tension begins culminating right away upon this first encounter. As jovial as Amin may appear, he’s clearly veiling a very sinister – if not downright psychotic – side.He offers Nicolas a position as his personal physician. After a brief bout of hesitation, curing the president of a dangerous case of flatulence, Nicolas obliges, unwittingly selling his soul. In all of his cockiness and the blindness that comes with it, Nicolas views Amin as an upstanding, brave, intelligent and progressive leader, insulting English confidantes who try to warn him of mysterious disappearances of the president’s detractors and the constant reappearance of the man’s insidious ways.Mercifully, this film lacks a consistent stream of graphic violence. But the few scenes of such that do emerge more than make up for it. There’s not much warning, for instance, before a dismembered body pops up onto the screen. If you can in any way gauge when it might be coming, value the purity of your memories and a peaceful night’s sleep, you should cover your eyes. Another scene at the end of the film is clearly going to be hard to digest and you’ll see it coming – you’ll still get the idea if you don’t watch it. But some of us are more squeamish than others. Then again, a lot of very worthwhile, powerful films have scenes like these – from others about Scots (ie: “Braveheart”) to “Hotel Rwanda.” Even if you close your eyes for a couple of minutes, they’ll be opened wider for having processed this movie.