Sunday, April 02, 2006

Shooting Dogs

Completing this week’s Michael Caton-Jones double-header, the BBC-funded Shooting Dogs couldn’t quite be called a feel-good Rwanda movie, but it’s a feel-better one, not so much bringing home the impact of genocide as framing it and sticking it tastefully on the wall. Where Hotel Rwanda and Sometimes in April had the dramatic heft to elicit, in their different degrees, the apposite feelings of helplessness and outrage, Shooting Dogs limits itself to displaying them; our white, Western audience identification figures aren’t sensibly off to the side here but up close, frontal and quivering. Imagine Cry Freedom with both lead roles played by Kevin Kline, or ponder again the ideological evasions of The Constant Gardener and The Interpreter, all part of this same worthy but unexacting genre of African apology cinema. Questioning our own desire to make a difference is all very well, except when it ends up dignifying the viewer with a capacity for heroic empathy more than it properly confronts us with the cost of our inattention; sober and sermonical, Shooting Dogs spends 90 minutes setting John Hurt’s weary priest up as a convenient martyr in white robes, lets Hugh Dancy’s idealistic teacher off the hook for at least trying, and culminates, egregiously, with forgiveness and something close to gratitude. C

1 comment:

Nick Davis said...

Then doesn't this qualify, too, as a Hugh Dancy double-feature? Just when he must want nothing more than to hide his auto-asphyxiated face?