A United Kingdom: Review (BFI London Film Festival)

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Rosamund Pyke and David Oyelowo fall truly, madly and deeply in love in the headlining gala feature, A United Kingdom. With a black female director, this movie is one to see and one to celebrate.

Seretse Khama, the Prince of Botswana causes outrage amongst nations when he marries Ruth Williams; a white woman and typist from London. Amma Astante unfolds this story with grace and consideration and both Pyke and Oyelowo are exceptional in portraying an interracial marriage during Africa’s colonial past.

The pair meet at an event for a British charity who’s intentions are to convert Africans to Christianity. Ruth is merely a plus one to her sister and doesn’t seem to have given much consideration about Africa. Seretse catches her eye and she admires his passionate and captivating dialogue from afar. Once he see’s her, their love affair begins. The blooming stage of their relationship is told quite briskly as the movie places focus on the relationship after their marriage and once Britain and Africa have reacted to their wedlock.

Ruth’s unconditional love results in her move to Botswana, leaving her family behind and a father who has disowned her. Her husband is the heir to his uncle and must fulfil his duty as the next leader of the tribe. They’re not welcomed with open arms and Seretse’s uncle moves to another village with his men after the couples refusal to divorce. With powerful and evoking speeches, Seretse begins to gain support from some members of the tribe, as well as make us viewers excited for the positive change he is implementing in society.

Ruth’s character development is particularly interesting; the way she adapts to African culture and lives independently on her own in Botswana, after her husband is banished from his own birth place and remains in London for a year. Astante doesn’t encourage a focus on African village life however, and we mainly only see Ruth looking lost in her new home.

Seretse and Ruth’s relationship receives much grief from the white colonists living in Africa and they participate a considerable amount in the narrative, nonetheless, there is no expansion as to how they embrace or disregard African culture.

Aside from this, A United kingdom is a sincere film and Astante has succeeded in bringing this important segment of political history to the screen. It is also important to note the success of Astante with her feature. The gender gap in Hollywood regarding female directors has shocking statists and when considering women of colour, that data plummets even further. A United Kingdom is a step in the right direction for the BFI London Film Festival, as well as cinema all round.

Here is an interesting article featuring Amma Asante, discussing the change which needs to develop within the film industry.

 

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