November 2, 2006
Pacific Place, Seattle
I was excited about this film as soon as I heard that Kevin McDonald was making a film staring Forest Whitaker. As far as I'm concerned, Forset Whitaker does not get enough good roles and after seeing a trailer for the Last King of Scotland, I was even more excited about seeing the film. Forest Whitaker looked like a perfect choice to depict the brutal Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin. And he didn't disappoint. Forest Whitaker gives an Oscar worthy performance.
The problem with The Last King of Scotland is the way the story is framed. We learn about Amin through the eyes of a young, Scottish doctor who is at first charmed by Amin until he slowly realizes how Amin rules. Unfortunately, the reveal is not as suspenseful as a slow reveal should be and not nearly as interesting as a portrait of the man's life as Amin's personal doctor was not aware of all of his affairs and actions, only those that either concerned Amin's medical affairs or that he felt like sharing with his doctor.
In other words, while The Last King of Scotland was an interesting film, I believe it suffered from being too much about a Scotsman in Uganda than about the more compelling subject of Amin's dictatorship. I would have been more interested to learn the details of his rise to power and the details of his ruthlessness once he was the leader of Uganda. Kevin McDonald has shown that he can make documentary film compelling and downright nailbiting with Touching the Void. I would have preferred this film to have been closer to a traditional documentary than a fictionalized account of Amid's rule.