Starring: Don Cheadle, Sophie Okonedo, Joaquin Phoenix
Director: Terry George
Running Time: 121 mins
Hotel Rwanda is an American film, based on a true story, about a hotel manager who took in hundreds of Tutsi refugees at the beginning of the horrific genocide committed by the Hutu militia in Rwanda.
This film is stunning. It’s not only a historically fascinating tale, but it manages to really get to the core of you and be horrifically emotionally hard-hitting as well, which makes for an absolutely enthralling but difficult viewing experience.
The main thing about this film, however, is how graphic it is. The Rwandan Genocide was one of the most horrific and bloody conflicts of the last 50 years, and the film really shows that. Like the Hutu militia, the story has little sympathy for the Tutsi characters on screen, and therefore shows some absolutely horrifying details of their demise.
However, the pure graphic nature, although incredibly heavy-going, is not enough to really make the story so impacting. That means that the emotionally intense side of the whole story is the main core of where you get hit by the horror of the genocide.
The main character, Paul Rusesabagina, is a hugely likeable, relatable and supportable man, and you are kept with him for pretty much the entire duration of the film. This means that you develop an incredibly strong emotional connection with him, meaning that when he is suddenly hit by the gravity of the situation he is in (shown stunningly in one almost heartbreaking scene), it’s all the more hard-hitting.
The film also succeeds admirably in making you knowledgeable enough about the situation of the Rwandan Genocide to really feel hurt by the horror of it. Throughout the film, I felt especially angry at the terrible cruelty and violence of the Hutu militias, and that shows not only how good this film is at being emotional, but also historically important.
However, despite all the horror, anger and sadness, there is always a small glimmer of hope in this story. The way in which the hotel manager manages to upkeep his hotel and save nearly a thousand Tutsi refugees in collaboration with an incompetent UN force really keeps you believing that they’ll make it through the horror of the genocide.
Overall, I’ll give this an 8.9, because it is a hugely fascinating, emotionally impacting and well-made film that keeps you enthralled from start to finish in a horrific detailing of these events.