Hotel Rwanda (March 29/05)
Don Cheadle has been delivering solid supporting work for years, but Hotel Rwanda marks the versatile actor's first shot at a lead role. It's an eye-opening performance that's unexpected - only because he's never had the chance to display this kind of range before.
The film is set in 1994, the year that South African Hutus slaughtered almost one million Tutsis. Cheadle stars as Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who opened his hotel to Tutsi refugees - despite the growing danger to himself and his family.
Hotel Rwanda has the distinct vibe of a traditional Hollywood epic, complete with sweeping music and melodramatic overtones, yet this somehow suits the extremely graphic and disturbing nature of the subject matter. The various atrocities that occur on screen are easier to take when you've got clearly defined heroes and villains, though Keir Pearson and George's screenplay occasionally goes overboard in this respect (ie a sequence in which Rusesabagina is literally tripping over bodies).
Still, it's impossible to deny the power of this true story - particularly given Cheadle's Oscar-worthy performance.