A Sunday in Kigali Robert Favreau

My hopes were raised early on in A Sunday in Kigali, as it wound new threads of the AIDS crisis and white intransigence into the standard Rwandan genocide narrative. Imagine my disappointment when it turned into the same "heroic whitey acts nice” movie that plagues every non-white social issue.

To be sure, Luc Picard’s grizzled, middle-aged journalist isn’t the usual liberal purebred; he’s more of a lived-too-long, drunk-too-much cynic who already thinks his hopes have been dashed. But that’s hardly compensation when he more or less annexes young sexy Rwandan Fatou N’Diaye and then goes on to explain why he’s not like the other white chumps who prey on young black women.

In the same vein, writer-director Robert Favreau is very careful to offer all sorts of expository disclaimers intended to ward off accusations of paternalism, but this of course only ensures that we can’t help but miss all of the white-centred, self-righteous blind spots that are the hallmark of the pseudo-liberal hand wringer. We might have overlooked this were anyone driving the aesthetic/structural train, but Favreau proves to be an astonishingly inept filmmaker — his camera setups are the last word in hideous and his narrative meanders across a variety of issues it can’t possibly hope to address.

In the end, it’s a standard war melodrama with star-crossed lovers and a lot of opportunities to curse authorities, but hardly the sort of thing the deaths of 800,000 people should facilitate. And while a bizarre scene with a jaded Romeo Dallaire figure seems right out of science fiction, its presence in a film that screws over the victims of a genocide gives it a nasty aftertaste. (Equinoxe)