This film is an interesting mishmash of genres, told with a slick pace and a drastically evolving tone. It follows a privileged, optimistically naive Sottish doctor, fleshed out by James MacAvoy (Wanted), opting to escape the mundane trappings of life by swimming around in the toilet bowl that was Uganda in the 1970s. While working at a small hospital during the major military coup-d’etat of 1971, he inadvertantly catches the attention of the charismatic but unstable man-child of a dictator Edi Amin, played brilliantly by Forest Whitaker (Panic Room). What follows is a smooth descent into paranoia and terror as the relationship between the two men is strained to the breaking point by plots, infidelities, foreign interference and Amins mercurial and brutally loose grip on reality. I found the tone of this film very cool as it effortlessly reflects the mental state of MacAvoys character while he endures growing and sinister hardships; both self-induced and those outside of his control. His adventure begins with an almost playful and light quality as he takes in Africa without actually getting any on him. But as the stakes are raised and violence and fear begin to intrude, the tone shifts to bring the audience into his increasingly desperate mindset. And it works. The acting is top tier, across the board, with Whitakers Amin character a definite standout as his hops back and forth between ‘frightening as hell’ and charmingly child-like. The story tackles the spy, forbidden romance and escape movie genres nicely as it weaves in and out of actual historical events from the time period. This truly is a ‘character’ movie and if that is your cup o tea…add this one to your list.
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