"successfully and bravely shows how a story about racial segregation and world politics can be told"
Following in the footsteps of an extremely inclusive year during the London Film Festival 2015, this year the new edition started off with A United Kingdom, an extremely touching romantic film that, is finally telling an untold story of love and courage, it also showcases a contemporary topic about race and segregation, and it does so through the talent of Amma Asante, a black woman director.
Plot wise, A United Kingdom tell the story of Seretse Khama, King and future first president of Bechuanaland, and Ruth Williams, an English woman whom he fell in love with and married in 1948. Their love story isn't an easy one; living in a society in which apartheid is taking roots and a mixed marriage is seen as a sin, Ruth and Seretse have to fight for their love not only because of the ever growing racial intolerance and segregation but because of Seretse's heritage and his family's legacy. In fact, his uncle, acting as regent while Seretse is becoming a Lawyer in London to prepare himself to be King, because of political agreements between Great Britain, Bechuanaland and South Africa, is firmly against his Nephew's choice for a wife.
Against all odds, and most importantly a government that is trying to separate Ruth and Seretse for mere political and economic reasons and to see the British Imperial Force rise again, the two fight together to finally see their love win against everyone and everything.
A project extremely wanted by David Oyelowo, A United Kingdom comes at a time in which we still hear about racism against black people, especially in America. For this reason, the themes discussed in the movie can still be considered contemporary, even though many will blindly say that racism doesn't exist anymore.
Amma Asante has done a marvellous job in bringing to life this project, her technique is flawless in telling a love story that most people would ignore. Her female gaze is what this movie needed to successfully mix together politics and romanticism without one outshining the other. The real take on both London and Botswana not only highlights the breathtaking and staggering beauty of these two countries, but it also underlines the difference between the two cultures and how both Ruth and Seretse don't fit in the other's world.
David Oyelowo once again portrays a strong willed man scared for the people he loves but ready to sacrifice himself for them. His performance is outstanding and the commitment to tell this story is evident in his interpretation. His Seretse is determined and strong as a leader of his people, but when he is with Ruth he becomes a simple man in love with his wife and ready to fight everyone to keep her by his side. He is also compassionate and extremely astute in dealing with the shady side of politics and doesn't let the British government rule over him.
The rest of the cast ensemble did a fantastic job in supporting Oyelowo's masterful performance, the only small dark spot in the whole movie is the not so strong performance delivered by Rosamund Pike. Her character is a courageous woman who is ready to go against her own country for love. She has a deep respect for her husband and his people. However, for most of the movie Rosamund Pike didn't deliver a passionate performance. She seems a bit aloof and, compared with her male co-star, it seemed like her soul wasn't completely in the story. She shows Ruth's determination and deep adoration for Seretse spottily, making her performance a bit underwhelming and inconsistent.
For a movie that is capable of combining together love and social issue, A United Kingdom successfully and bravely shows how a story about racial segregation and world politics can be told without having to remove the romance, on the contrary, it makes it stronger thanks to it, allowing the audience to connect with it more deeply and bringing the universal message of inclusion coming across stronger and more powerful than ever.