a/perture Cinema, AFI, Amazon Prime, Cate Blanchett, Don Cheadle, DVD.com, Hôtel des Mille Collines, Hotel Rwanda, IMDb, Jamie Foxx, Netflix, Nick Nolte, Paul Rusesabagina, Rotten Tomatoes, Rwanda, Sophie Okonedo, The Less Desirables, WSNC
Per IMDb: “Paul Rusesabagina was a hotel manager who housed over a thousand Tutsi refugees during their struggle against the Hutu militia in Rwanda.”
In one of the most troubling and heartbreaking films I can remember ever seeing, Don Cheadle plays Paul Rusesabanga, a real-life hotelier that offered sanctuary and a safe haven for hundreds, perhaps even thousands of Tutsi people from the genocidal Hutu
people during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide that killed an estimated 500,000 to 1 million Rwandans. Paul is Hutu but is married to a Tutsi woman and he constantly fights to keep her and their family alive.
He takes in many Tutsi refugees and keeps them safe in the Hôtel des Mille Collines, a Belgian aerospace company-owned 4 star hotel after the Rwandan president’s plane is shot down after a call for truce between the peoples. There’s much corruption within the ranks of the government, the military, the militias, the trades and with just ordinary citizens. No one is trusted and there is always a struggle for power. One step in the wrong direction and someone is putting a knife (or machete) in your back.
Watching this film was very difficult. Not because it wasn’t a good film, in fact, it was a great film, but to think that people, ordinary human beings, even, can do this to one another and it makes me feel slightly better that no matter how crappy this country can be, we’re still a great country where, at least for now, this isn’t fathomable. It’s surely possible, but luckily we seem to mostly have control of ourselves, our government and our humanity. It’s amazing when you see what race or creed bias can do to a population and country. What the Hutus were doing was beyond disgusting and inhumane. It’s hard to find a word to describe how bad it was.
The real life Paul Rusesabagina was a consultant for the film. It’s his story, at least to a certain degree. His bravery and tenacity are remarkable. It’s almost like Schindler’s List for Rwandans. I believe I read that it was compared to that. The casting in this film was fantastic and while the scenery wasn’t (it was a genocide zone) the cinematography was phenomenal. Nick Nolte’s Colonel Oliver was a Canadian U.N. officer who on numerous times put his life on the line for Paul and his staff and the Tutsi people. Oddly enough, the Hôtel des Mille Collines, while the setting of the film, never actually appeared in it. The film was shot in South Africa while being set in Kigali, Rwanda.
Rotten Tomatoes has it at 90% Fresh with an Audience Score of 94%. IMDb has it at 8.1 stars out of 10. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards (Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Screenplay) winning none of them, which is sad. The winners of those categories for that year were Jamie Foxx for Ray, Cate Blanchett for The Aviator and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind respectively. It is one of the 400 nominees of the AFI‘s 100 Years… 100 Movies 2007 list. It is available for rent via Amazon Prime and on Netflix‘s DVD.com; it’s not currently streaming. I own a copy and that’s how I watched it. I rate the film 4.5 stars out of 5. Have you seen it? What do you think? Do you agree? What would you like to see/hear me review?
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“There’s always room.” – Paul Rusesabagina