The Last King Of Scotland


Reviewed by: Darren Amner

The Last King Of Scotland

The Last King of Scotland is a wonderful, gripping movie based on a book by Giles Foden. The story follows a recently graduated young Scottish doctor, Nicholas Garrigan, who is looking for adventure. He is bored and desperate to escape the life led by his father, who is already trying to map out his life for him. One spin of a globe and Garrigan is off to Uganda to practice medicine, have a good time and do some good, if he can.

He arrives as Idi Amin is emerging as the new president of Uganda. Amin's rise to power was popular at first, but it is said that during his rule he was responsible for the deaths of 300,000 people. Amin was president for eight years and mainly remained dictator through his charm and large personality. Upon a chance encounter with Garrigan, Amin offers the young doctor a job as his personal physician. Leaving behind his postition working at an over-populated under-staffed village clinic, Garrigan is enticed by his new friend's offer and the obvious luxuries that come with working for the president. Finding it difficult to say no, Garrigan soon finds himself thrown in at the deep end as he becomes more than just a doctor - he is promoted to his number one adviser and is sought after to give advice to his leader on all manner of issues.

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The movie starts out light-hearted, is funny in places and Amin is a very likeable character. As an audience we, like Garrigan, are sucked into his world. This is mainly due to Forest Whitaker's larger than life performance. He brings so much to the table as Amin - who can be terrifying and ruthless one minute and passionate and enthusiastic the next.

Whitaker is a commanding force and dominates the screen most of the time, so it's a credit to James McAvoy as Garrigan that he manages to hold his own. Garrigan at times is selfish, arrogant and naive and at first is enjoying his life so much that he doesn't want to acknowledge what is going on around him. It takes a really horrific incident to wake him up to the savage ways of Amin's command, but has he left it too late to escape and bring down the mighty oak that has stood so tall for far too long?

Kevin MacDonald's direction is excellent, the way he shoots Africa is travel brochure appealing, the pace moves along swiftly and the script twists and turns right till the very last frame. The characters are complex and well drawn. Whitaker will no doubt be mentioned near Oscar time, but McAvoy is a talent who keeps blossoming further with every role he takes on, so don't count him out come awards season either.

A great deal has already been written about this movie, nearly all of it good. I will continue to sing its praises. I was desperate to catch this movie before I left this year's London Film Festival and I am so glad I did. It's a great story of a charismatic showman who rose to the top and then gradually fell from grace; many suffered during his reign, but not this viewer. The Last King of Scotland is engrossing, intelligent film-making by a young director who is going to be a name to look out for in the future.

A fantastic film that is a great ambassador for cinema. Go and see it.

Reviewed on: 24 Oct 2006
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Ugandan dictator's rise to power as seen through the eyes of a young doctor.
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Read more The Last King Of Scotland reviews:

Nick Da Costa ****
Steve Harwood ****
Stephen Carty ***1/2
Chris ***

Director: Kevin Macdonald

Writer: Jeremy Brock, based on the novel by Giles Foden

Starring: Forest Whitaker, James McAvoy, Kerry Washington, Gillian Anderson, Simon McBurney, David Oyelowo, Abby Mikiibi Nkaaga, Adam Kotz

Year: 2006

Runtime: 121 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


Leeds 2006
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