Inspired by the 1970s term of Ugandan President Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker), the film concentrates on young Scottish doctor Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy), who turns down joining his dad's practice in order to help out in Uganda. He's soon taken under the wing of Amin, whose political actions are far more ruthless than his often-jovial demeanor.
Big question: Can Whitaker and "The Last King of Scotland" match the authenticity of Don Cheadle and "Hotel Rwanda"?
Catch it: "The Last King of Scotland" is about the different faces of a leader who supported mass killings, but humor and personality ensure that the film isn't devoid of life. Whitaker is a commanding force as he navigates the line between charmer and monster.
Skip it: If you would ever consider sleeping with the wife of a dictatorial president. You should know that the government won't take too kindly to that.
Bottom line: Garrigan's disloyal romantic exploits seem uncharacteristic for someone so wise beyond his years, and his disconnect from the operations of Amin's regime are suspect for someone who becomes so involved in decision-making. But when "The Last King of Scotland" is a two-man show between Whitaker and McAvoy, it's a striking tale of a young man in over his head, under a president determined to reign supreme.
Bonus: When he's feeling low, Amin watches legendary skin flick "Deep Throat." Who needs Prozac when you're got porn?
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
'The Last King of Scotland''
Directed by Kevin Macdonald; screenplay by Peter Morgan and Jeremy Brock, based on the novel by Giles Foden; cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle; edited by Justine Wright; production design by Michael Carlin; music by Alex Heffes; produced by Andrea Calderwood, Lisa Bryer and Charles Steel. A Fox Searchlight Pictures release; opens Friday. Running time: 2:01. MPAA rating: R (for some strong violence and gruesome images, sexual content and language).
Idi Amin - Forest Whitaker
Nicholas Garrigan - James McAvoy
Kay Amin - Kerry Washington
Stone - Simon McBurney
Sarah Merrit - Gillian AndersonCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times