Hotel Rwanda

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Hotel Rwanda
Review (4/10)
(By Liam Cullin)

The big reason I went to Hotel Rwanda was because I heard there was Oscar buzz about Don Cheadle's performance. Being somewhat of a Don Cheadle fan, I wanted to see what the buzz was about. Things started out well in that going into the movie, the theater was pretty packed. This showed me that there was indeed some interest in the movie. But then the lights dimmed, the projector rolled and it went downhill from there.

Hotel Rwanda is based on the true story of Paul Rusesabagina (Cheadle), the house manager of a hotel in Rwanda circa 1994. As the movie begins, we're introduced to a bit of the turmoil in Rwanda. There's a militia at war with the country's government. But, the war has apparently subsided and the militia is ready to sign a peace treaty. Paul works at a hotel which houses some United Nations delegates and peacekeepers and in his spare time at the hotel, works to collect as many favors as he can from some of the influential people traveling through his hotel on a daily basis, just in case he need to call them in sometime in the future. Soon, the militia turns on the government (it was all a trick!) and begins to take over the county, savagely murdering hundreds of thousands of refugees. When nobody comes to their aid to provide military support, Paul manages to harbor several hundred people in his hotel, using every last favor and every last trick he has up his sleeve. But he can't keep them safe forever.

An interesting story - especially considering it's true. So how did it go wrong? It was just long. I'm sure there are more reasons, but at only 110 minutes, the movie easily felt like 150 minutes. They could have easily trimmed 20-25 minutes and the movie would not have missed a beat. As I mentioned earlier, the theater was pretty full when the movie began. As it progressed, people began to leave their seats and by the time the credits began to roll, the theater was less than half full. That's a telling statistic.

As for Cheadle and our little Oscar friend? I don't like to make Oscar predictions, but I can't really see it happening. Maybe if there aren't any other decent roles out there, but this movie does him in. It's not that he's bad - it's the movie. That said, the movie won't be released until December, so if they can manage to trim the movie a little and get rid of some of the redundant material, who knows.

Personally, I'd start by cutting or editing every scene in which Paul's wife appears. Every time she was on the screen, it made me wince. It's one of those weepy roles where you just wish she'd stop crying and start doing something productive. Also, although I liked Jean Reno's role in the movie, he really didn't need as much screen time as he recieved. He's only in 3-4 scenes, but it was just part of the story that could have went untold. Same goes for the Red Cross nurse. Or the insubordinate hotel employee.

And one other thing. Not knowing too much about the actual politics of the situation, I would have appreciated a bit more information. People were killing each other - but I didn't really know who was killing who - or why?

In the end, I think the movie tried too hard to show too much and as a result, lost some of its focus. It's too bad - because this is a story that deserves to be told. While many people are wondering why the American government is in Iraq for no real reason, it makes you wonder why the Americans and the international community as a whole refused to intervene in Rwanda.

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