The world is a scary place - one might say a terrifying place. Put aside your opinions, for instance, about the war in Iraq. Go to the movies. [This review was written in 2005]
But for one trip to the movies, dare to trade away two hours of entertainment, and see "Hotel Rwanda." Trade for truths about humanity that weigh more than life itself.
Go to a film where a human being can hack a person to death using a machete with no more justification than a category written on a piece of paper. Multiply such death-dealing by 1,000,000 individual people.
Director Terry George concentrates on the profound immediacy of being next to it and on the likelihood of being next. He tends to train his cameras on the deathly results rather than the murderous actions. More watchable, no doubt, but still plentiful in its revulsions.
Yet, this is a film where one man can be intelligent and loving and poised enough to save 1,200 people from inescapable madness. Go to a film that has a couple of laugh-out-loud moments that work more soulfully than mere comic relief amidst real-world horror. Such humor is an example of the masterful storytelling in this movie.
You will recognize Don Cheadle, from other films. Currently, he's also part of the "Ocean's Twelve" celebrity pack. In "Hotel Rwanda," he plays the real-life Paul Rusesabagina, an excellent employee at a high-style hotel, an impressive husband and father. And his brother's keeper.
While we are at war in Iraq, it seems fair to ask everyone to be uncomfortable for the two hours it takes to watch "Hotel Rwanda." It seems fair to digest this kind of dramatization into the sensibility of anyone who holds any opinion about terrorism and freedom.