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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 22.5%
Just Average: 3.75%
Pretty Crappy: 3.75%
Sucks: 3.75%

5 reviews, 50 user ratings

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Hotel Rwanda
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by Jay Seaver

"(A) Best film of the year. (B) You can't ignore Don Cheadle any more."
5 stars

There can be no denying that Paul Rusesabagina, as played by Don Cheadle in Hotel Rwanda, is a hero. Some may dismiss the movie's worthiness based on that. I've had many conversations with people who say that heroes are boring characters, that strength isn't as interesting as weakness. They say, give me a protagonist seeking redemption for some past misdeed, or one with a dark side in opposition to their heroics, and that's an interesting character.

I don't see it that way. It seems sadly cynical to me that someone doing the right thing for the simple reason that it is the right thing to do is not compelling. The way I figure it, a guilty man seeking redemption is a cliché (one who deserves it will never accept it). But a character like Rusesabagina, who could stop at saving himself or his family and never be questioned by anyone but his own conscience, that character has some interesting decisions to make.

As the movie starts, Paul is a comfortably middle-class floor manager for a resort hotel that caters to European visitors and African dignitaries. Though he is a Hutu, like the majority of Rwandans, his wife Tatiana (Sophie Okonedo) is Tutsi - a division created by European colonists that baffles their descendants. Though a peace accord negotiated with the UN's assistance has just been signed, Hutu extremists strike, calling for genocide, and as the streets erupt in violence, first Paul's home (he's the only Hutu his Tutsi neighbors trust) and then his hotel fill with refugees.

Cheadle will be up for awards for this, and he should be. He plays Paul with a rock-solid morality, but also plenty of fear that he'll screw things up - as well as awareness of the consequences. Rusesabagina manages a hotel, so he's used to taking charge of a large staff and scrambling to find what his customers need to make their stay better, but he also comes face to face with the fact that most of a hotel's challenges are transient ones, fires to be put out as they arise. This is persistent, though, and Rusesabagina eventually realizes that he's in over his head and can't see any way out. Cheadle projects that desperation without specifically articulating it, or giving a speech about it. He just makes the audience feel it, adding both suspense and an appreciation for what both he and his country went through.

The rest of the cast is strong, though it's Cheadle's movie. The script has Sophie Okonedo cowering and crying a lot, but steps up in her scenes with Cheadle. A conversation on the hotel roof, about how Paul used bribery to get her transfered to Kigali after meeting her in the country, provides a needed respite during the nightmare; she can also tell him when he's wrong. Desmond Dube is a likable sidekick; Hakeem Kae-Kazim and Tony Kgoroge are frightening examples of passive and aggressive evil. Nick Nolte perhaps doesn't give his finest performance as a Canadian colonel in the UN's peacekeepers, but he still communicates the frustration of a soldier who sees an evil situation but is not allowed to fight against it. An uncredited Jean Reno is good as the president of the Belgian company which owns the hotel; Fana Mokoena is a general whose corruption is both a threat and a tool for Paul.

Terry George's name is all over the credits for this movie - writer, producer, and director. Much of George's earlier work was in collaboration with Jim Sheridan and concerns itself with the equally senseless conflicts in his native Ireland, so many of the themes may be familiar. He does a good job of keeping the focus solidly on his characters, while at the same time never missing an opportunity to remind the audience that even though Rusesabagina and company are holed up in a luxury hotel, chaos and atrocity are just on the other side of the gate. He manages his nightmares well, not shying away for them but using them sparingly enough that they are still shocking at the end of the movie.

Hotel Rwanda can be tagged as an "important" film; and it is a fitting descriptor. The world in general and Americans in particular did not pay much attention to what was happening in Rwanda, or respond in a timely and effective manner; this film can certainly heighten awareness and inspire people to outrage against similar events. If it has such an effect, it does so because it is dramatic and well-presented. That Paul Rusesabagina is a real person makes him a hero; that George, Cheadle and company present his story so compellingly is what makes Hotel Rwanda a great film.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10461&reviewer=371
originally posted: 01/08/05 22:11:01
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/20/08 Shaun Wallner Great Film! 5 stars
6/03/07 R.W. Welch Has an authentic feel to it. Standout turn by Cheadle. 4 stars
5/20/07 action movie fan boring tale of african turmoil-africa addio was much better and more harrowing 2 stars
10/29/06 Dorito Cheadle is a pretty good actor, but movie not even close to historicly correct 2 stars
3/18/06 MP Bartley Cleverly unstylised drama really impacts. Cheadle is magnificent. 5 stars
1/22/06 ANDREW FAYE AWESOME` 5 stars
10/08/05 DM Well-acted and moving despite feeling a bit too much like an inferior "Schindler's List." 4 stars
8/27/05 D Buckley TV movie at best. 2 stars
8/08/05 Bubba Fish A powerfully moving drama 5 stars
6/21/05 Phil M. Aficionado Really "worth a look" because it has drawbacks (just a few), "awesome" in candor/impact 5 stars
6/14/05 Maha Azzam It is an effective film that makes you not only feel the suffering but also live it. 5 stars
6/12/05 Helen Bradley Excellent acting better editing would improve pace 4 stars
6/10/05 Simon Moviemaking solid. Story immensely moving. Don Cheadle flawless. 5 stars
6/06/05 Indrid Cold Cheadle is great as promised, but nonwhere near the overall impact I expected. 3 stars
4/24/05 Jeff Anderson Gripping, authentic & real! Don Cheadle gives an unforgettable & brilliant performance. 5 stars
4/18/05 s dunivan it was great i thiught i showed what was going on 5 stars
4/15/05 shatonjia Awesome...a topic that the US overlooked until now. 5 stars
4/13/05 kimberly miller Its great movie i hope people watch its and really see whats going on in other countries. 5 stars
3/25/05 Greg Ursic A disturbing film. Cheadles performance was outstanding 4 stars
3/24/05 malcontent Cheadle should finally get deserved recognition 5 stars
3/14/05 brody WOW..... 5 stars
3/04/05 Heather Great movie, Don Cheadle's performanxce is Oscar worthy 5 stars
3/02/05 HORAN THE MAN!!!!! HOTELS SUCK MY LET NUT!!! 1 stars
3/02/05 David Tsung don, you finally got some deserved recognition 5 stars
3/01/05 jack cheadle is good but feel and pacing is not right 3 stars
2/27/05 Mike Hollywood. Forgettable despite a compelling topic. Wasted opportunity. 1 stars
2/25/05 Elizabeth S Powerful and unforgettable. 5 stars
2/17/05 Fahad Pinto very moving 5 stars
2/17/05 dian anderson AWESOME AND THE TRUTH IS SCARY 5 stars
2/16/05 Hilary Adamson Refreshing! First of this year's Oscar nominees I've see that's not about sex&the shitty! 4 stars
2/13/05 Nathan Wilhite Amazing! I was in Rwanda and 2000 and this movie stunned me. 5 stars
2/11/05 ray Cartoonish....Where does Hollywood come up with this stuff.... 1 stars
2/05/05 ajay stunning. 5 stars
2/04/05 Lisa Everyone must see this film! I'm stunned that it wasn't nominated for Best Picture. 5 stars
2/03/05 axe I've seen Tears of the Sun, which was, well, execrable. But this, friends, is well-executed 5 stars
2/01/05 Uncle Phucker Very poor excecuting in story telling. All the actors were fabulous! 3 stars
1/29/05 Nicole Great film 5 stars
1/24/05 Banzai Windmills Wow. We need more movies like this (ie, topical and starring Don Cheadle) 5 stars
1/24/05 Theresa Hew Powerful, Cheadle deserves the Oscar. 5 stars
1/23/05 MoVon Very well done! 5 stars
1/21/05 malcolm the theater was dead silent when this movie ended. scarier than any john carpenter film. 5 stars
1/18/05 Lisa Everyone over age 12 should see this film 5 stars
1/11/05 chris. i watched this after being forced to watch little back book. it saved me from suicide. 5 stars
1/08/05 cut the tall trees!! jesus fuckin christ I am a Hutu nigger and we are planning to take over the goddamn honky world!! 4 stars
12/20/04 Ray Superb 5 stars
12/10/04 Nick Truly powerful 5 stars
11/24/04 Jes AMAZING! he is by far a master actor.This films is also amazing,terrible story, but reality 5 stars
9/19/04 xx xxx 5 stars
9/14/04 bonnie great film, a must see 5 stars
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  22-Dec-2004 (R)
  DVD: 12-Apr-2005



Directed by
  Terry George

Written by
  Terry George
  Keir Pearson

  Don Cheadle
  Nick Nolte
  Sophie Okonedo
  Antonio David Lyons

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