Magazine article The Spectator

Royal Dazzler

Magazine article The Spectator

Royal Dazzler

Article excerpt

The Last King of Scotland 15, Nationwide

This film will knock your little socks off. In fact, it knocked my own little socks off so comprehensively that I'm still searching for them. I think it may have even knocked them to Sheffield. But you mustn't care about the socks. Socks are only socks and you've got others, I bet.

And the fact is: you must, must see this film. This may even be one of the best films I have ever seen. It does everything right, has everything: terrific story; terrific script; terrific performances that may even be beyond terrific. (Forest Whitaker is simply breathtaking; a force of nature; staggering). Plus, it also contains what must be the mightiest, most stupendous fart in cinema history. And that in itself is worth the loss of a pair of socks, surely.

The Last King of Scotland is an 'inspired by true events' tale about a young Scottish doctor, Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy), who travels to Uganda in the early Seventies to 'do good' with his medical degree but instead is lured into becoming Amin's (Whitaker's) personal physician and, then, 'closest adviser'. Well, it beats flipping burgers in McDonald's, I guess, except that it doesn't. Remember this and remember it well: if you ever have to choose between working with a genocidal, violently brutal maniac or flipping burgers, go for the burgers. If in doubt, read the small print really, really carefully.

The film begins with Garrigan in Scotland, just after he's qualified and is expected to embark on the dreary life his GP father has mapped out for him. He has other ideas, though. He wants adventure.

He wants excitement. So he opts for Uganda, chosen at random by spinning a globe and blindly stabbing it with his finger. Garrigan is not a bad person. But he does have all the most trying qualities not only of youth but also, perhaps, of the white man who wants to 'do good' in Africa. These qualities are ego, vanity, naivety and arrogance. He imagines he is doing good for others while actually only serving himself. Does it matter, though, if good is actually done? Not really, I suppose, but what if harm is done?

Garrigan works initially in a village clinic but is quickly dazzled by an encounter with Amin (who suffers a minor car accident nearby). …

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