Movie Review – A United Kingdom

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by Amma Asante

A tale of love, courage and perseverance

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.’ (IMDb) (by Amma Asante, 111 min.)

I was so utterly surprised by how much I liked this film. I knew I would love the story, because it is a well-known story of love and of courage and of two people fighting for each other and for the country they care so much for. But the way this movie was made, the way this story was told was just so beautiful, that I couldn’t stop watching and kept rooting for them to succeed.

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There are still some things about the story, about the film that bothered me a bit. At the beginning of the film I wasn’t connected to the characters. I just didn’t believe in their love. It felt a bit pushed and not real. Not because of the actors, because they were great, but I felt it was pushed a bit too quickly. I think the film would have benefited from it if they put in 10 more minutes of them falling in love with each other. Because now it was too quick for my taste. I had the feeling that the director, Amma Asante, wanted to get to the ‘juicy’ part, to the real story of this film.

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Which made it a bit harder for me to connect to the characters. I did find that Rosamund Pike was perfect as Ruth, a young woman falling in love and leaving everything behind and pack all her belongings to go off to Africa. She portrays Ruth perfectly. You feel with her when she starts her life in Africa and feels the racism and the difficulties to fit in there, which she also faced in England. The fears and the difficulties to learn the language, to make his people love her and accept her, became real and made the movie so much better towards the end. Their love became so much more apparent and real towards the end of the film. Actually from the moment he left to go back to England and she stayed behind in Botswana. 

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David Oyelowo was great as well. He has already played in so much of my favourite films, that it came as no surprise that he portrayed Seretse so well. You felt with him, with everything he went through. When he got the news that he was banned from his country and from his pregnant wife, that just hit me in the heart. He was vulnerable, yet so strong because he didn’t want to give up on Ruth. You could feel his love for his country, but that he also wanted to do the right thing, even if he knew that he would be met with a lot of resistance. There were so much emotions going through me while watching this. 

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This is a great example of the perfect combination of great acting, gorgeous images and the right use of music. If only the beginning of the film wasn’t pushed so much and didn’t go by so quickly, I think this would have been in the top 5 of my favourite films of the first half of 2017. I will be checking out Amma Asante’s next film, because I do feel she evolves with every story she tells and she knows how to put her land on film in such a beautiful way. Can’t wait to see what she brings out next.

7/10 stars.

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