Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Last King of Scotland

Forest Whitaker’s Oscar Victory

By David Luhrssen
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“Inspired by real people and events,” The Last King of Scotland (2005) should not be confused with an accurate chronicle of Idi Amin’s reign in Uganda. But the political thriller (out now on Blu-ray) about a naďve young Scott, a recent medical school graduate whose 1970s wanderlust brings him into the unlikely role of the dictator’s personal physician, gets at the emotional truth behind the insanity of Uganda in those years. And Forest Whitaker, who earned well-deserved Oscar for his role, gave a plausible psychological portrait of one of the most memorable figures to stride across the world stage in the ‘70s.

Whitaker's titanic performance captures the mercurial Amin, a charismatic yet clowning man, gregarious and increasingly paranoid. The Last King of Scotland offers no explanation for his behavior and leaves open the possibility that his descent into madness may have been spurred by the assassination attempts of his enemies. Rather than explain, it gives an unforgettable presentation of a ruler who murdered on a massive scale.

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