Monday, 28 November 2016
'A United Kingdom' Review
Prince Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo) shocks the world when he proposes to English white woman Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike) who agrees to be his wife. This is met with outrage in the UK and also back in Seretse's home country where the people oppose him returning to be king. The two must fight for their right to wed and live happily together.
Amma Asante brings us one of the most powerful films of the year which takes us back in time to a story that we may not be completely aware of. Racism is a big thing and is no stranger to the big screen, but Asante's adaptation of a true story stands up with some of the most impactful films of the year. The film certainly does its job in making the audience feel enraged by what seems like something so petty. It's baffling to look back and see how narrow-minded these people were as they tried their best to split up true love. What is also unfortunately true is that there is still behaviour like this to an extent and even worse in some cases. The film makes it so clear that there is no reason for both sets of people to get along and coincide with one another. Asante covers this conflict incredibly well, in which is a film that has low points but then highs with some great victories for society. In a world where people seem to be divided - see the recent UK and US elections - it is important for a film like this to come along and show that pointless bickering and differences shouldn't be put in the way of doing what is right. Although the content is slightly different, the film carries the same message of unity.
Rosamund Pike seemed to have taken a mini hiatus since her fantastic performance in 2014's 'Gone Girl'. This time Pike is playing a completely different character, playing possibly one of the sweetest characters of the year. As Ruth, she is just a normal London girl with just a normal job and is as down to earth as one could be.This does contrast with David Oyelowo's Seretse Khama who is of course very wealthy due to his royalty back in Bechuanaland. Khama most certainly is humble and does not look down on anyone despite his importance back home, which leads to him falling in love with Ruth. The love feels fairly genuine although a bit rushed. You can see that they cherish each moment with each other as from the start of the relationship, they are being targeted by those around them. Both Pike and Oyelowo are great in their roles as we see the love they have for each other, but they also document the struggle the pair had to go through very well. There are many moments where you see them start to become fed up with society but continue to power on with a brave face to show that nothing will come between them. As a romance, this works very well as neither person will let anything stop them being together, not even the British Empire.
The film is strengthened due to the performances from the rest of its cast. Jack Davenport is a stand out as the ruthless Alistair Canning who looks to do anything to stop this marriage happening, He was a real unlikeable character at the helm of the government. You felt a hatred towards him due to the actions but also Davenport's performance helped back this up. The two families also play a big part in this film, with neither Ruth's or Seretse's being fully behind the marriage. The cast plays their roles very well in showing that it wasn't just strangers who opposed this but loved ones too. This adds to the struggle when it is made clear that the two are against literally everyone else in this scenario.
Although the film is filled with a strong message, it doesn't provide for an entertaining watch the whole way through. The film progresses and the majority of it seems to come in the form of meetings and negotiations that aren't engaging, emotional or entertaining enough to keep the audience completely interested. This does make the film drag on a bit as you want it to move on to something more entertaining which unfortunately does not come. It seems to lose some of its charm due to this as we're stuck in bleak offices watching Seretse be declined yet again and again. This is effective in showing the struggle and how hard it must have been for the couple but for an intriguing watch, not so much.
'A United Kingdom' is a good film about a historical event that many may not know about. We've seen and heard stories similar to these issues but 'A United Kingdom' does a great job at showing racism from both sides and the oppression from two different lands. An important film that you should check out for sure.
Final Verdict =
So have you seen 'A United Kingdom'? If so, what did you think of the film? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing this film! Once again thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated!
By Angus McGregor