The developed world continues to splash its shame and guilt about official indifference to Rwanda’s 1994 genocide across movie screens, currently with this slick, deeply problematic potboiler from the U.K. Sharing a similar setup with the comparatively tame Hotel Rwanda, but told from a white Westerner’s perspective (problem No. 1), Beyond the Gates draws from the true story of the Ecole Technique Officielle, a Catholic high school in Kigali that also served as a U.N. base and, at the outset of the massacre, a refuge for 2,000-odd Tutsis. The headmaster (Hurt, playing a fully functioning human being for a change) and an earnest Brit teacher (Dancy) do their best to save the Africans, but when a Belgian U.N. commander (Horwitz) follows orders to withdraw, they’re left at the mercy of the vicious Interahamwe.
The film doesn’t shy away from the disaster’s grisliest atrocities, and director Michael Caton-Jones nicely captures the sickening matter-of-factness with which they unfold (the low budget probably helped). But by dodging cultural and political specifics in favor of a thriller-lite framework—which, at its worst, provides the European protagonists with explicit and implicit redemption—Beyond the Gates ends up serving largely as a tribute to the virtues of hindsight. (Opens Fri; IFC Center.) — Mark Holcomb