Tag Archives: Gillian Anderson

The Last King of Scotland

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Director: Kevin Macdonald; Main Cast: James McAvoy, Forest Whitaker,Kerry WashingtonGillian Anderson;

The rise to power and violent regime of Idi Amin (Whitaker), real-life Ugandan dictator during the seventies, is seen through the eyes of a fictional character Dr. Nicholas Garrigan (McAvoy), young and a little naive Scotsman. Based on the book by Giles Foden, the story mixes well facts with fiction keeping the viewer engaged. Forest Whitaker goes above and beyond to give us a multi-layered portrayal of this larger-than-life historical figure. Well-trained by the British army, Amin happened to be one of the first two officer in the post-colonial Ugandan army; he raised quite fast in the ranks to Commander of all forces,thanks to his charisma and attitude to leadership, and brilliantly solved his years-long struggle with President Obote with a military coup. This is when young Nicholas meets him, cheered by the people as savior of Uganda. Amin has a great admiration for Scotland and he’s positively impressed by Nicholas, who is direct and self-confident. Nicholas is intrigued and charmed by this charismatic giant and let himself be convinced to become Amin’s personal physician. However, behind the lovely, colourful facade of life in the presidential residence, the blight starts to show: Amin is increasingly paranoid, ruthless and in more than one occasion shows erratic behaviour lashing out at advisors, family and friends alike. Amin relies more and more on Nicholas as he slowly turns himself into an absolute despot, ruling with iron fist and killing all his opponents. The viewer, together with Nicholas, is both disturbed and terrified by this Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hide behaviour and begins to understand that things will only get worse. To complicate matters, Nicholas has the not very bright idea of having an affair with Kay (Washington), Amin’s second wife,  since she is lonely and shunned by the dictator due to the epilepsy of his son by her. Unfortunately for the parties involved and for the viewer, this will result in particularly gruesome violence as comeuppance dealt by the “wronged” Amin. I haven’t felt this much of empathic pain since A Man Called Horse.  Our so-called hero makes it out alive, unfortunately that’s not the case for many Ugandans, during his eight-year regime Amin managed to kill 300000 of them, in rather horrific ways. During the last confrontation between the two leads there’s a very illuminating exchange:

Amin: I am Idi Amin! President-for-life and ruler of Uganda. I am the father of Africa.

Nicholas: You’re a child. You have the mind and ego of an angry, spoiled, uneducated child. And that’s what makes you so fucking scary.

7.5/10

This post is my contribution to the second edition of The Great Villain Blogathon hosted by an amazing trio: Ruth of  Silver Screenings, Karen of Shadows & Satin and Kristina of Speakeasy. Go and read all the other entries linked on their blogs.

You can find my entry to last year edition here.

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The Fall (season 1)

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Main Cast: Gillian Anderson, Jamie Dornan, John LynchBronagh WaughNiamh McGrady;

I decided to watch this for two reasons: I like detective stories with a leading lady and I heard that Jamie Dornan was cast in Fifty Shades of Grey because of his role in The Fall. Let me clarify the latter: I haven’t read the books nor I saw the movie but, since I don’t live under a rock, I’ve read reviews and commentaries about both (some pretty hilarious!) and I find telling that an actor who received good reviews for his performance as serial killer is considered an apt choice to embody a billionaire with a predilection for BDSM… well, he’s more a controlling sadist but let’s not open that can of worms. So back to the series in question. The story is pretty straightforward: driven and experienced detective Stella Gibson (Anderson) is looking for a serial killer who targets pretty brunettes with good jobs in Belfast. Gibson is from London and on a different task when she reaches Belfast. Being smart and with years of police work under her belt, she makes a connection between two separate murders that eluded all her local colleagues and sets up a task force to deal with this unstoppable criminal. Anderson is very good at bringing out both the tough and the caring side of Gibson, but keeping her past shrouded  in mystery. The viewer also meets right away said serial killer: Paul Spector (Dornan), grief counselor with a very particular hobby. Unfortunately for Dornan, those puppy dog eyes of his do him a disservice here and prevent him from truly selling the psychotic murderer persona of Paul Spector. He does manage to give off some creepy vibes but there’s nothing in his demeanor really menacing or chilling, which is a pity since the audience spends so much time in Spector’s company. I wasn’t asking a performance at the level of Hopkins’s Hannibal (or Mikkelsen’s) but something more was needed to make Spector a worthy villain and this hunted/be-hunted story more convincing. What I like a lot is the Northern Ireland settings: the scenery, the light and the accents! The supporting cast is solid and helps improve the quality of each episode: Waugh as Sally Ann Spector, Paul’s wife, John Lynch as Jim Burns, the local chief of police with a personal relationship with Gibson, and Niamh McGrady as Danielle Ferrington, a determined policewoman who joins Gibson’s team. In the end I’m left with mixed feelings about this first season, well, only five episodes. There are a few strong points but nothing really revolutionary about the plot or the characters. Ambivalent —5.5/10

 

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This post is part of The Begorrathon 2015 hosted by Niall at The Fluff Is Raging and Cathy at 746 Books, go to their blogs and check all the other contributions out!

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Filed under TV-shows