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Movie Review: Hotel Rwanda

Alternate Title: Heartbreak Hotel

Story: I saw the previews to this film more often than any other film this year. I wanted to like this film more than I did. It is a heartbreaking, sincere story that makes you angry on many levels.

Inspired by the book We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch and the true story of Rwandan, Paul Rusesabagina. He was the Hotel Manager of the five star Des Milles Collines in Kigali, Rwanda when genocide began in 1994 and managed to save 1260 lives through his courage, resourcefulness and guile.

Here's a quick history lesson for you. The struggle and animosity between the two groups, the Hutus and the Tutsis was not an ancient tribal battle. It began because the rat bastard Belgium colonialists created artificial Eugenic theories to separate and distinguish two groups. The people who had smaller facial features were considered to be Tutsi (ancestors of Europeans), while those with more traditional African features were tagged as Hutu. In recent history, both groups intermarried, and the distinguishing lines became less obvious. Politics entered the picture when the Government issued identification cards. These cards shaped politics and race politics proceeded to shape the future of the nation after the colonists had left the country. And then the genocide began.

Director Terry George (Some Mother's Son ) does a run of the mill job telling this story of the brutal murder of 1,000,00 people mostly by machete. There is nothing that grabs me in this Oskar Schindler type tale. The story telling was too rote and told in an overly PG fashion. The world turned its back on Rwanda and we should all feel ashamed.

I am not sure who this film is going to appeal to, but if you have a conscience you should see it.

Acting: Don Cheadle is wonderful as Paul Rusesabagina. This is a breakout performance and is worth your time for that alone.

Predilection:I like films about politics anywhere.

Critters: There were none seen in the film but the wildlife of Rwanda suffered as well as the Tutsis during this awful time.

Food: The five star Hotel had lots of food for the privileged but dwindled as the massacre continued.

Blantant Product Placement: Heineken.

Soundtrack: A terrific track by Wyclef Jean (just nominated for a Golden Globe).

Opening Titles:An ominous voice over a darkened screen setting the scene.

Theater Audience:I saw a screening (thanks Joe) of this in a jam packed house (reviewed 12.14.04).

Sappy Factor: If only there was a drop sap in this bloodbath.

Quirky Meter:0

Squirm Scale: Yes, this is a squirmy story but there is very little footage of carnage.

Predictability Level: Sadly, we all know what happened.

Tissue Usage: Tears cannot help but being shed.

Oscar Worthy: No.

Nit Picking: It needed to be more powerful somehow.

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen to support this story being told. For some other Don Cheadle films, how about renting: Ocean's Eleven (he is also in the new Ocean's Twelve) Traffic, Mission to Mars, Out of Sight, Boogie Nights, Bulworth and Devil in a Blue Dress.

Length: Under two hours but exhausting.