Friday, 16 December 2016
FILM REVIEW: A UNITED KINGDOM
Although not the least bit subtle, Amma Asante's retelling of the real life love story, between an African prince and a British woman in 1947 England, boasts some genuinely moving, even stirring moments.
That most of those are provided by David Oyelowo when his royal character addresses his people should come as no surprise: Oyelowo played Martin Luther King to great effect in 2014's Selma where, among many award-worthy elements, he gave good speech. His Seretse Khama, heir to the throne of Botswana, has a dream too: to make his vast but sparsely populated nation thrive.
It's not a dream shared by the British colonial powers-that-be, who seize upon the prince's marriage to Englishwoman, Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike) -- a union disapproved of on all sides -- to drive a wedge between Seretse and his uncle, the Regent (Vusi Kunene), and further their own interests and those of newly-apartheid South Africa; the lovers becoming unwilling pawns in an ideological battle and political land grab.
But Seretse, and even more so Ruth, prove to be made of sterner stuff. When the going gets tough -- Seretse exiled to England and Ruth forced to endure a pregnancy, alone in her strange new homeland -- the couple dig in.
Romantic and old fashioned, Asante's film may not be particularly nuanced -- Jack Davenport's British diplomat is a twirled moutsache shy of a pantomime villain -- but in her leads, the director has two sets of capable hands; to deliver the emotional truth of the core relationship, and the film's 'love conquers all' (and racism can go fuck itself) message.