LFF Opening Night Gala - A United Kingdom
Dir: Amma Asante
Starring David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, Jack Davenport, Tom Felton, Laura Carmichael, Nicholas Lyndhurst
Based on a true story, Amma Asante’s latest is as much as sweeping tale of romance as it is a political history lesson in race relations. Oyelowo is Seretse Khama, the king to be of Botswana to be, who whilst studying in London , meets and falls in love with white British office worker Ruth Williams (Pike.) Their romance, and subsequent marriage, is not one that is met with much in the way of “congratulations” in either her country or his. Indeed, it goes as far as to undermine the very fabric of British government – as superbly represented by Jack Davenport’s obsequious diplomat.
Shifting between the post war foggy night time streets of London and the blistering heat and beauty of Africa, Asante proves herself skilled at telling a story on both the personal and political level, even if she seems more concerned – or at least attuned with – the former. This is a decidedly old fashioned sweeping romance on one level – when the two first meet it is literally a case of their eyes spying each other across a crowded room. Love is at first sight and, even if you don’t know the real story in advance, you can be pretty sure from the way Asante pitches her movie, that it will also conquer all.
Asante captures the two worlds her film moves between very effectively, but it is clear that her focus here is on the love story. This is a film in which racially charged political issues never flare up, but are part of the machinations of those that haunt the corridors of Whitehall, and are seen in the impact they have on one married couple and their struggle to be just that – a married couple.
It’s a confident, if low key drama, with a uniformly splendid cast, with Pike particularly good. A tale well told, even if it ultimately lacks the impact that the filmmaker delivered in her previous work, Belle.
Catch A United Kingdom at the LFF on 5, 6 & 11 October
For more info go to www.bfi.org.uk.lff
Follow us on Twitter @lastwordonearth