A United Kingdom

Amma Asante has now made two traditional period dramas that subvert the genre by focusing on issues of race, and black characters, thereby ensuring that they are not completely written out of British history. Where Belle went back in time to the 18th century, the post-WWII-set A United Kingdom is based on the true story of Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo), a London-educated African prince who was the heir to the throne of Bechuanaland (modern day Botswana) but whose position was complicated when he married a white English woman named Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike). It’s a story that allows for critique of British imperialism as well as a more general narrow-mindedness (among the Bechuanaland leaders and citizens as well as – as you’d expect – English citizens shocked by a mixed-race relationship), but despite some smaller moments and the odd stirring speech from Seretse it’s hard to find any real anger here; sure there’s a laughably vindictive government posho (Jack Davenport) to direct your hisses towards, but for most of the second half of the film the hands of the main characters are largely tied by such obstructive wankers, and as this is first and foremost a romance, it has to go down the syrupy sunset route more often than not. The leads are good, it’s not a story I was familiar with beforehand, and overall I liked it. (***)