Monday, January 9, 2017

Movie Review: A United Kingdom

A United Kingdom - 4 Stars

Looking over the movie listings on a hot day, it became apparent my options were running short until the new movies came out. One of the last movies on my "To See" list was "A United Kingdom", which looked like a something up my alley from the trailers.

A historical film, based on a true story, the film presents the story of Seretse Khama, prince of Bechuanaland (modern day Botwsana) in the shadow of the second world war. Seretse is in England, studying Law at Oxford in preparation to take over his birthright as the king from his uncle who has acted as Regent since he was a child. Seretse is charming, intelligent and an all round great fellow who takes his role of future king seriously.

One night at a dance, he meets Ruth Williams, a clerk with some prospects. She'd been unwittingly dragged along to this dance at the Missionary Society by her sister (played with exquisite frumpiness by Laura Carmichael - commonly known as Lady Edith from Downton Abbey)

The two, the African Prince and the girl from South London fall instantly in love - which is when all hell breaks loose.

The inter-racial marriage, though not illegal in Britain at the time, is widely condemned in both families as well at by the public at large. Making things more difficult, the British Government want to keep Bechuanaland in their sights as the neighbouring lands of South Africa and the like are proving to be a gold mine. Adding to this pressure, South Africa is on the verge of legislating their draconian apartheid laws.

Set in post-war London and the last days of Colonial Africa, A United Kingdom provides an entertaining and educating look at what it is to stand for your principles. It also shows what life must have been like back in the days where to stray from the carefully observed norms was enough to bring a wave of Kardashianesque press pressure.

Another element of the movie is the insight it gives into post-Colonial Africa and the last days of British Rule. Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) and Jack Davenport are at their entitled and most irritating best as they try and maintain the last grasp of English rule by oppression. This movie also presents the oppressive politics of the time in how they were seen - unacceptable to many and lead by the few. There are quite a few parallels with today's right wing lanings.

David Oyelowo is great as Seretse, giving him both gravitas and humanity in equal doses. Rosamund Pike is wonderful as Ruth, his plucky bride.

This is well worth a viewing - even just to see that occasionally the underdog does win, and will well.

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