A United Kingdom Reviews
A UNITED KINGDOM
You've seen it, the impossible love story that tells us that love conquers all (cue the puke).Yet, the irony in this movie's title can't go unnoticed, in a time when our beloved UK is increasingly more separate. The title isn't a coincidence. It's a marketing ploy and, mostly, a political statement warning us about the drawbacks of Brexit. Whether you are in favor or not, this movie reminds you of a generic yet true message: that love has no borders, race or creed and we shouldn't incite separation between to lovers via a contract that has our political and economical agenda in mind. Sparking discussion is what this movie should do but... won't, as the average spectator will leave the theatre after crying over the happy ending and never give it another thought. I do not blame this on the audience, however, as I believe that inherently smart movies will intuitively lead to smart conversations. The problem is that there's nothing too relevant about this movie, nothing to praiseworthy. Except for the underwhelming music, everything else is just average. Yet I would say that the script needed way more doctoring as I felt a lack of emotional attachment. You see, a screenplay should be as pragmatic as possible but within that "as possible" there has to be room to breathe: scenes, movements, dialogue that doesn't overtly contribute to advance the plot. That's what makes us invest and believe in the reality the movie is trying to sell us which is lacking. Other thing that is worth mentioning about this movie is its female direction which is felt only in the way Asante treats her female characters (I'm not sure it should be felt in any other way). It made me realize that one of the last movies from a female director that I saw in theatres was DuVernay's Selma which also dealt with racism, although with more craftsmanship. But the reality of the matter is that if we are to have gender equality in our industry, women shouldn't be confined to directing female-driven o race related movies. They should direct action, musicals, average movies, crappy movies, the whole spectrum! A directorial effort should be regarded despite gender and bringing female directors wouldn't necessary bring better movies, but would certainly bring more varied ones. Returning to the film, do not get me wrong, this is an imporant and fairly well told story that you should check out if not only to learn something. But having just recovered from Oscar season, I need more.
DVD Movie Review: A United Kingdom
Date Viewed: June 7 2017
Directed By Amma Asante (A Way of Life and Belle)
Written By Guy Hibbert
Starring: David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, Terry Pheto, Vusi Kunene, Jack Davenport, Jack Lowden, Tom Felton, Charlotte Hope, Anton Lesser, Nicholas Lyndhurst, Anastasia Hille, Laura Carmichael and Jessica Oyelowo.
Despite it being too sweet and predictable, "A United Kingdom" is a well-told, true-life love story with two compelling performances from David Oyelowo (who also co-produced) and Rosamund Pike. Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams seemed like the perfect match but they had to break many barriers. Their families, the South African and British governments didn't welcome their proposed marriage so they tried everything in their power to keep them apart.
Based on a true story, "A United Kingdom" takes place in 1947 after WWII where we meet King Seretse Khama (Oyelowo), the heir to the throne of Botswana. He's currently studying law in London but everything changes when he meets a white woman named Ruth Williams (Pike). She's only an office worker but he falls in love with her anyway but they are soon greeted by protests from all angles. Both of their families, the governments of Britain and South Africa and the people of Botswana all shout their outrage and disagreement with the King being in a relationship with a white woman.
With relations between the U.K. and South Africa at a standstill, King Seretse does everything he can to stabilize his region and unite the people of Botswana but it won't be easy. Seretse also discovers that the British have allowed a U.S. mining operation to take place in the region without his consent or knowledge. Eventually the people of Botswana do warm up to Ruth but the British led by representative Alistair Canning (Jack Davenport) decide to exile the King from his own country leaving his pregnant wife behind.
King Seretse's only hope of ever returning to Botswana is to see if Churchill gets elected as U.K. Prime Minister because he promises to lift Seretse's five-year exile if he gets elected. When Churchill does get elected PM, he breaks the King's promise and he ups the ante by simply extending his exile from five years to forever. This news causes outrage from all sides including the people of Botswana and King Seretse even gets support from the American government. Battered and wounded but not willing to give in, King Seretse will not let racial intolerance get in the way of marrying the love of his life.
In addition to fine performances from Oyelowo and Pike, the movie also has rich cinematography by Sam McCurdy and the screenplay by Guy Hibbert (Eye in the Sky) is solidly enchanting. How can you not like David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike? They're terrific performers who have seen their star powers really glow in recent years. Who knew that the patrol officer from "Derailed" and the MI7 behavioral psychologist from "Johnny English Reborn" would become top-notch actors in really great movies such as "Selma" and "Gone Girl".
"A United Kingdom" is an old-fashioned, historical romance that works because of the strong performances by David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike.