A United Kingdom (2016)


Directed by Amma Asante
Country: UK / USA / Czech Republic

Talented British helmer and former actress, Amma Asante, is deeply focused on the racial theme, taking advantage of the overwhelming tension that envelops our world regarding this matter.

If “Belle” (2013) was a gracious period drama inspired by the 1779 Zoffany painting of Dido Belle, a mixed-race daughter of an 18th-century aristocrat, “A United Kingdom” is a forgettable romantic biopic, set in the 40s, about Sir Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo), prince of the Bamangwate tribe and natural candidate to the throne of Botswana, and his factual romance with Ruth (Rosamund Pike), a common Londoner.

Disregarding every rule and sanction, the couple ended up married in London, where Seretse was finishing his studies. From then on, they embark on a persistent fight for their rights on many fronts, both in the European and African continents.
The theme is certainly strong and present, but the film lacks the narrative fluency and emotional depth to convince.

Ms. Asante’s formal filmmaking worked beautifully in “Belle”, but in the present case has the effect of standardizing a story that is short of passion and adventure. Both direction and acting are too static and apathetic, and the drama often drags itself without the essential dramatic side associated with the true facts.
The director’s next move, entitled “Where Hands Touch”, is currently in post-production and features another romance between a mixed-race German woman and an SS officer. I hope it can bring something more to the topic than just a mere report of the facts.

A United Kingdom” feels more fabricated than authentic, dawdling in predictability and producing a sedative effect. It may celebrate a real-life victory but developed into a cinematic trifle.