Tuesday, 11 April 2017

A United Kingdom film review

I went to see this film with my friend Aj at Leeds/Bradford Odeon.

IMDB says: The story of King Seretse Khama of Botswana and how his loving but controversial marriage to a British white woman, Ruth Williams, put his kingdom into political and diplomatic turmoil.
In this Amma Asante (Belle, A Way of Life) directed film, screenplay by Guy Hibert (Omagh, Eye in the Sky) book by Susan Williams ('Colour Bar'), Rosamund Pike (Die Another Day, Gone Girl) stars as Ruth Williams and David Oyelowo (The Butler, Selma) as Prince Seretse Khama, who meet in the
late 1940s and fall in love.  When they decide to marry, the British Government fearing an international incident, send Sir Alistair Canning (Jack Davenport: Pirates of the Caribbean, Kingsmen: The Secret Service) to warn Ruth not to marry Seretse.  When that does not work and they marry, Canning informs Seretse that his Uncle and his people will never accept Ruth as Queen and that Seretse must renounce his claim to the throne.  Canning, his wife Lady Lilly Canning (Jessica Oyelowo: Sleepy Hollow, Alice in Wonderland) accompany the newlyweds to Bechuanaland where British colonials Rufus Lancaster (Tom Felton: Harry Potter, TVs The Flash) and his wife Olivia (Charlotte Hope: The Theory of Everything, TVs Game of Thrones) hope to keep the status quo.

A historical romance set against the sad backdrop of racism and the beginnings of South African apartheid, it deals with the political reasons for keeping a happily married couple apart.  We are shown how racism divides by Ruth's parents, father George (Nicholas Lyndhurst: TVs Only Fools and Horses, TVs Goodnight Sweetheart) and mother Dot (Anastasia Hille: The Awakening, Snow White and the Huntsman), the political element as aforementioned and when they return to Bechuanaland, his Uncle Tshekedi (Vusi Kunene: Eye in the Sky, Cry, the Beloved Country), wife Ella (Abena Ayivor: The Dinosaur Project, Machine Gun Preacher) and even Seretse's sister Naledi Terry Pheto: Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Tsotsi), with very few, such as Ruth's sister Muriel (Laura Carmichael: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, TVs Downton Abbey) showing acceptance.

The action splits between England and what is now Botswana, with a wonderful colour palette of drab grey tones for England and bright sunny hues for Bechuanaland which feels like a metaphor for the differences in Country but also how out of her normal realm Ruth would be in that situation.

It is a powerful film with excellent acting by the leads throughout.  Although it was different times, I still find it hard to believe that such political machinations could be delivered upon two people whose only crime was to fall in love.  Both the Tory and Labour governments of the time should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

Trivia: The actual Prince Seretse Khama's grandson makes a brief appearance in the movie and the house used as Ruth & Seretse's home in the film was the home of the real Ruth & Seretse. Real life husband and wife David and Jessica Oyelowo appear in the film.  Andrew Lloyd Webber had thought about doing a musical.

 Quote: No man is free who is not master of himself.                                                                   7/10

#AUnitedKingdom #DavidOyelowo #RosamundPike #Odeon

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