When an African king weds a white British bride in the late 1940s, he faces a raft of political repercussions from both the colonial empire and a rising South African Apartheid, in this powerful true story.
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Prince Sereste Khama (David Oyelowo) of Botswana is finishing his studies in London, when he meets Ruth (Rosamund Pike). A humble daughter of a local salesperson, Ruth is immediately taken with Sereste, and their shared love of jazz music and dancing sees a romance quickly blossom.
At first Ruth has no understanding of who he is, or the nation he was born to lead, but she quickly discovers that their romance isn’t just poised to meet the resistance of her parents, but also both sides of power (the white colonials and the African people) in his home country.
They choose to resist the disapproval of their respective families, and face an enormous challenge to maintain the power Sereste was born into, and to find acceptance as an interracial couple in a time where segregation remained the norm.
A United Kingdom is a powerful and heartbreaking film that charts the ugly course of racism and colonialism in the 1940s. To assume that such themes are not still as important today would be foolhardy, but the sheer overtness of it is confronting.
David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike do well as the film’s central characters, but it is the supporting cast—including Jack Davenport and Terry Pheto—that drive the film’s emotional core. The sweeping shots of Africa add to the film’s rich visuals, and there are some genuinely uplifting moments amid the horror and despair.
A United Kingdom seems to be a fitting look into history at a time when the world itself needs to think about what it means to come together. It highlights a true story that is truly remarkable, and deserves to be shared.
Director: Amma Asante
Stars: David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, Jack Davenport, Terry Pheto
Runtime: 1hr 51 mins
Release Date: December 26
Reviewer Rating: 3/5