Release Date: March 9th, 2007 (IFC Center) by IFC Films.
The Cast: John Hurt, Hugh Dancy, Dominique Horwitz, Louis Mahoney, Nicola Walker, Steve Toussaint, David Gyasi, Susan Nalwoga and Claire-Hope Ashitey.
Directed by Michael Caton-Jones.
BASIC PREMISE: During 1994, Christopher (Hurt), a priest, and Joe (Dancy), a teacher, try to stop the massacres occurring in and around a Rwandan school. Based on a true story.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Both Beyond the Gates and Hotel Rwanda portray similar events that occurred during the Rwandan genocide in 1994.A strong performance by Christopher helps to keep you mildly engaged by the meandering plot. Joe works as a teacher at Ecole Technique Officielle, which literally translates as the Official Technical School, which houses many Tusti refugees while U.N. troops station themselves. Much of the plot follows Christopher and Joe as they witness the horrific massacres of Tutsis by the Hutus going on beyond the school’s gates. They try to do to anything in their power to seek help in order to stop the massacres from continuing. However, they clearly have an obstacle: the U.N. troops remain passive observers while merely obeying their commands to monitor the peace. Screenwriter David Wolstencroft doesn’t add enough character development so that you care about any of the Rwandans. A slightly longer first act would have helped to establish the main characters’ backgrounds more rather than merely showing their reactions to the very intense situations. Moreover, the second act often drags as Joe reaches more and more dead ends in his many futile attempts to end the conflict between the Hutus and the Tutsis. Hotel Rwanda felt much more consistently engaging by comparison. Director Michael Caton-Jones does an admirable job of bringing out authenticity through the grittiness and horrors of the genocide without relying on excessive violence or gore. It’s also worth mentioning that he used many actual survivors of the genocide as the crew.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: It’s equally infuriating and sad to watch the cruel Hutus brutally massacre innocent Tutsis—even infant Tustis— without any remorse. The third act feels moving and poignant, particularly during a simple yet powerful and chilling, extended shot of many dead Rwandans lying dead on the ground.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: A tedious second act that occasionally drags.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 3
IN A NUTSHELL: Mildly engaging and poignant with a terrific performance by John Hurt, but somewhat tedious and lacking in character development. Ultimately inferior to Hotel Rwanda.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: DVD
The "B" Menu