Representing the Rwandan genocide on film is difficult enough, but representing it without melodramatic lapses is worth commendation. Beyond the Gates succeeds in presenting a well-crafted depiction of these atrocities and the West’s failure to act. Aiding this success is the superb acting by all the principals, namely Hugh Dancy, John Hurt and Children of Men’s Clare-Hope Ashitey. As in his past roles (see: The Sleeping Dictionary), Dancy plays the young, western innocent, who means well but doesn’t seem to truly comprehend the events taking place around him.
Despite the role reprisal, Dancy succeeds in creating a well-rounded, realistic character. John Hurt delivers a strong performance as the elder priest who thinks he has seen it all; that is, until he realizes what it is he is seeing and experiencing. Hurt manages to draw a great deal of feeling and depth from the lines given to him, which in less skilled hands could have sounded trite and slogan-esque.
The dogged commitment to keeping the camera focused on the brutality results in a film that's graphic and hard to watch, but necessary. Whereas the pitiful media coverage a decade ago made it all too easy to ignore the events in Rwanda, Beyond the Gates attempts to shock, horrify and call on its audience to act against present and future genocides.