Movie Review: The Last King of Scotland

February 15th, 2007

Last week we went to see The Last King of Scotland, the new film based on the regime of Idi Amin.

The film (based on the book of the same name) is a fictionalised account of a doctor (Nicholas Garrigan, played by James McAvoy) who falls in with the regime of Amin. But the centre of the film is Amin, played in what is probably the performance of the decade by Forest Whitaker. It’s a very difficult role to play – Amin must appear charismatic in order for us to understand how Garrigan (and, indeed, Uganda) can be attracted to him in the first place. But he also has to have the underlying evil of the man too. Anything other than a brilliant performance would have undermined the whole film.

It’s not an easy movie to watch, and gets a little graphic at times. There are also a couple of small stylistic missteps (in my opinion, at least) in the final third as Garrigan begins to realise what situation he’s in. But overall this is a fantastic movie well worth seeing.