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Belle (2014)

tomatometer

83

Average Rating: 7/10
Reviews Counted: 127
Fresh: 105 | Rotten: 22

It boasts all the surface beauty that fans of period pictures have come to expect, but Belle also benefits from its stirring performances and subtle social consciousness.

74

Average Rating: 6.7/10
Critic Reviews: 35
Fresh: 26 | Rotten: 9

It boasts all the surface beauty that fans of period pictures have come to expect, but Belle also benefits from its stirring performances and subtle social consciousness.

audience

86

liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 21,642

My Rating

Movie Info

BELLE is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode). Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle's lineage affords her certain privileges, yet her status prevents her from the traditions of noble social standing. While her cousin Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) chases suitors for marriage, Belle is left on the sidelines wondering if she

PG,

Drama

Misan Sagay

Aug 26, 2014

$10.7M

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All Critics (127) | Top Critics (35) | Fresh (105) | Rotten (22) | DVD (1)

A good-looking and exceedingly polite film where perhaps a more complex one with less good manners would have been better.

June 10, 2014 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's an old-fashioned movie with a very modern streak, centered by a vibrant star turn by Mbatha-Raw, whose watchful, wise Dido makes an enchanting heroine.

May 22, 2014 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Factually, the movie is probably a fraud, but it's crisply entertaining ...

May 19, 2014 Full Review Source: New Yorker
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Luminous British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw brings a hope and intelligent hunger to Dido. She's loved by her family enough to have a sense of belonging but hemmed in by broader cultural realities to experience moments of unease.

May 16, 2014 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film simply looks lovely, never moreso than when Mbatha-Raw is on screen.

May 16, 2014 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Belle presents an interesting history lesson, one that had significant repercussions, but some of the developments in this storyline turn out to be woefully convenient.

May 15, 2014 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film works as both an intimate character piece and as a broader glimpse into socioeconomic conflicts regarding tolerance and perception.

June 30, 2014 Full Review Source: Cinemalogue.com
Cinemalogue.com

A finely wrought tale of a woman out of time, a film that plays eloquently upon the heartstrings as it interweaves familiar personal intrigue with stirring social history.

June 15, 2014 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

Loosely inspired by the true story of a mixed-race woman who mingled with the aristocracy of 18th-century England, Belle is a frock flick with a difference... In this costume drama something is actually going on beneath the bonnet.

June 15, 2014 Full Review Source: Movie Talk
Movie Talk

The direction from Amma Assante is perfectly judged and impeccably paced and the result is a film which is very easy on the eye but has a lot to say for itself.

June 13, 2014 Full Review Source: Irish Independent
Irish Independent

This inextricable intertwining of love and justice, private and public, personal and political, is the film's great cri de coeur and its structural brilliance, as costume and courtroom drama comment on, and merge into, each other.

June 13, 2014 Full Review Source: Sight and Sound
Sight and Sound

Wonderful true story about a mixed-race woman raised in an aristocratic British family in the late 18th century; like the best Jane Austen romance with an angry social conscience.

June 13, 2014 Full Review Source: Flick Filosopher
Flick Filosopher

The plot feels like a Jane Austen novel infused with a hot-potato political issue, but this is actually a true story.

June 13, 2014 Full Review Source: Contactmusic.com
Contactmusic.com

Asante's own work of art is lamentably cautious but does, ultimately, throw up things we haven't seen before. It's pretty, in other words, but not entirely vacant.

June 13, 2014 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

It's hard to imagine the true story of Britain's first mixed-race aristocrat being told more elegantly than in this warm and often very funny period piece, which brings a subtle political gravitas to its central fairy-tale romance.

June 13, 2014 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

With Belle, Asante has succeeded in making a sweeping costume drama that confronts questions of race and gender head on -- something that Merchant Ivory films rarely managed to do.

June 12, 2014 Full Review Source: Independent
Independent

A spirited, good-natured and crowd-pleasing costume drama.

June 12, 2014 Full Review Source: Independent
Independent

An assured rendering of a fascinating true story that gives off sparks of wit and vitality that make it instantly engrossing.

June 12, 2014 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

Asante handles this mainstream commercial picture with assurance.

June 12, 2014 Full Review Source: Guardian
Guardian

This is disappointingly lifeless, and shallow, and the soundtrack! So many violins, you'll leave feeling as if you've been quite violently smacked around the head with one. Repeatedly.

June 12, 2014 Full Review Source: The Spectator
The Spectator

One of the points of Belle, expressed in its central metaphor of the portrait for which the cousins pose, is that someone is always at risk of being painted out of history. The film paints everyone back in.

June 12, 2014 Full Review Source: New Statesman
New Statesman

Race, love and social politics are deftly handled in Amma Asante's forcefully-acted feminist period drama.

June 12, 2014 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

Belle - while never slipping into fiery polemic - makes its political points solidly, careful to couch its righteous invective in a compelling narrative inspired by a true story.

June 12, 2014 Full Review Source: Sky Movies
Sky Movies

It's an inert, pompous, un-cinematic piece of cinema.

June 12, 2014 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

Visually drab despite its appealing range of period London scenery, Belle is a well-intentioned but somewhat emotionally stiff drama.

June 12, 2014 Full Review Source: Digital Spy
Digital Spy

Mbatha-Raw does genuine, star-making work here, saying more with her bright and searching gaze, in a film full of politely glazed barbarism, than Dido's position at first allows her to put into words.

June 12, 2014 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

Audience Reviews for Belle

An very good historical film tackling slavery, race and the class system in Enlightenment Era Britain. Excellent costumes and locations with a typically outstanding performance by Tom Wilkinson. Gugu Mbatha-Raw portrays strength and incredible vulnerability in a very effective way. Good performances all around -- well, except for Draco Malfoy who bumbles through the plot line like a Slytherin trapped in his Harry Potter school days. Despite Felton and the not-quite-ready-for-prime-time sound editor, the film is really, really worth seeing.
September 1, 2014
cchclaw

Super Reviewer

Where Belle really gets interesting is when it delves into the history of the era. The details of the Zong slave-ship massacre becomes a landmark case in the courts. Lord Mansfield is the Chief Justice presiding over the case when the insurance company refuses to pay for the loss of the human cargo. He must determine whether the slave trading company can collect on the slaves that were deliberately thrown overboard when the ship ran out of drinking water. Will Belle's influence have an effect on him? Woven into this account is a would-be suitor (James Norton) whose mother is tempted by Belle's sizeable dowry. After all she is still heir to her father's fortune. His brother is a hissable villain played by Malfoy, er uh pardon me, Tom Felton. There's also an idealistic abolitionist (Sam Reid) of a lower class who provides some romantic spark. The cast is uniformly great, but none better than Gugu Mbatha-Raw, a British woman of South African descent. She embodies the title role with dignity and grace. Her personality is restrained, yet resolved. A gorgeous countenance highlighted by her remarkably expressive eyes convey all manner of emotion even without words. Belle is captivating and presages the arrival of an exciting new talent.

fastfilmreviews.com
May 12, 2014
hobster1

Super Reviewer

Have you heard about the writing controversy surrounding this film? Director Amma Asante and some of the cast say that the shooting script used while filming was the one written by Asante herself. The writer credited by the WGA wrote a much earlier draft and never met Asante to work with her in pre-produciton. It is great that a historical drama like this made it to theaters. As I thought about it afterwards, I realized that even this film does not quite pass the Bechdel test. Part of it is the time period portrayed, when women were as much property as slaves. However, to focus on a number of women characters and have every conversation between two or more women be about the men in their lives takes some special effort. Amma Asante said in an EW satellite radio interview that she was making a Jane Austen-esque picture. Gugu Mbatha-Raw makes Dido an intriguing heroine in the tradition of Austen, but Sam Reid plays her main love interest, John Davinier, as a hollow, unrealistic, romantic ideal of a man. Perhaps there are way more than enough films with a male fantasy version of the ideal woman to warrant this chiselled, too-perfect character falling for the well-spoken female hero outsider. The sets and costumes are lavish, but, still, I wanted more of the historical court case and less of the fawning over Davinier.
July 29, 2014
hypathio7

Super Reviewer

Gugu Mbatha-Raw shine here. I loved her in Larry Crowne and on the first season of the Fox TV show, Touch. She does an amazing job here in Belle. The film itself is very good. It has a Merchant Ivory feel to it. Beautifully shot and edited. It kind of reminded me of, in a weird way, Pride and Prejudice, and An Ideal Husband.

Amma Asante did a great directing job here. Tom Wilkinson also shines in the film. Sam Reid is very good and has a great on screen chemistry with Gugu. Matthew Goode is also good in his brief role as Belle's father. Also solid supporting work from Sarah Gadon, Tom Felton, Emily Watson, and Miranda Richardson.

The only negative with the movie, is when the studio released it. The studio should have released the film in the fall, instead of the summer. By releasing it in the summer, the film has a small chance of being noticed for any Oscar consideration. Had the film been released in the fall, the film's Oscar chances would have been greater.

I definitely recommend this film, especially for Gugu's performance.
May 13, 2014
SC007
Sol C

Super Reviewer

    1. John Davinier: Well..unless..she marries her equal, her true equal, a man who respects her.
    – Submitted by Kelly A (2 months ago)
    1. Dido Elizabeth Belle: We women are but the property of gentlemen.
    – Submitted by Kelly A (2 months ago)
    1. John Davinier: I was curious.
    2. Dido Elizabeth Belle: Quite a task, to sit for so many hours.
    – Submitted by Kelly A (2 months ago)
    1. Dido Elizabeth Belle: My greatest misfortune, would be to marry into a family that would carry me as their shame.
    – Submitted by Diane S (3 months ago)
View all quotes (4)

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