— by TOM ELCE —
Though it’s based on a true story, it is difficult to take “Shake Hands with the Devil” as anything above and beyond another of those useless films bent on giving a white perspective to fundamentally black problems.
We’ve been there with “Blood Diamond” and the like, and since the results have hardly been rousing so far skepticism is the instinctive response to another in the production line of praise-baiting movies about Third World conflict.
Taking cue from the autobiography from lead subject Romeo Daillare (played by Roy Dupuis), Roger Spottiswoode’s historical film documents Daillare’s response to the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and the subsequent lack of priorotising of the issue by the United Nations. His request for aide ignored, Daillare presses on for justice for the black victims in the face of hostility and resistance.
For those interested, “Shake Hands with the Devil” has already notched up six awards and 12 nominations, though the trailer gives off the impression not of an illuminating historical document but a woodenly-acted parade of calculated images, blunt sentiment and Dupuis’s moustache.
Two of those award wins were for Dupuis’s leading turn, but the trailer doesn’t really give much reason why. Meanwhile, viewers can only hope that Deborah Kara Unger exercises a greater amount of subtlety in the finished product than she appears to in the awful glimpses of her performance the trailer offers up.
If we are, however, onto a great film with this one, director Roger Spottiswoode seems the most unlikely man to have helmed it; His previous credits include the epically bad “Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot” and the indifferently-received Bond movie “Tomorrow Never Dies.” I guess stranger things have happened.
“Shake Hands with the Devil” is tentatively scheduled for U.S. release in 2010.
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