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Last King of Scotland, The


Stars: Forest Whitaker, James McAvoy, Kerry Washington, Gillian Anderson, Simon McBurney, David Oyelowo

Director: Kevin Macdonald

The 1970s. Newly qualified doctor Nicholas Garrigan (McAvoy) heads for a mission hospital in Uganda, supposedly to 'make a difference', but probably more to escape his country doctor father and stifling village life.

A cocky wee thing with an eye to the main chance, Nicholas, after having sex with an acquaintance on a coach, has no sooner tried - almost successfully - to seduce the wife (Anderson) of the mission's doctor than a chance meeting with the country's newly-installed dictator, Idi Amin (Whitaker), results in Nicholas taking charge at a car crash and binding Amin's sprained hand.

There are similarities to Androcles and the Lion here - although Amin is no amiable beast - and Nicholas finds himself offered the post of the dictator's personal physician.

At first inclined to refuse, Nicholas is quickly seduced by the trappings of wealth and soon finds himself not only Amin's doctor, but also his 'closest adviser' - a dangerous post.

Amin, alas, is a tyrant and hundreds of thousands of Ugandans are to be massacred during his bloody reign.

The story carries faint echoes of the recent All the King's Men, but this is much better and stronger - if a bit long. That excellent actor Whitaker is absolutely on the money as the man who hands a gun to his friends and a knife to his enemies, but McAvoy lacks the stature for his role.

Colour camerawork by Anthony Dod Mantle on location in Uganda glows with class.

David Quinlan

UK/Germany 2006. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Colour by De Luxe.
123 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 09 Jan 2007