British director Amma Asante achieved great acclaim with her 2013 film Belle – which really boosted the career of excellent lead actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Now, Asante is about to deliver her third feature film, and its cast need no such boost – featuring, as it does, high profile award nominees David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike. The trailer for A United Kingdom showcases powerful performances from these two leads, as well as beautiful direction from the accomplished filmmaker at the helm.
The story is a historical drama that centres around African Prince Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo), who is summoned back to Botswana from London to lead his nation. During his time in London, however, he has met and fallen in love with Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike) – and proposes marriage before he departs. As he returns to Botswana with his wife, the newlyweds find that their union stirs fierce international controversy.
“London, 1947. Jazz lovers Seretse Khama (Oyelowo, also at the Festival in Queen of Katwe) and Ruth Williams (Pike) meet at a Missionary Society dance. The evening is electric, perhaps in part because both know their attraction is fraught. She’s an accomplished office worker, and white. He is a charming law student, and black. What he can’t tell her at first is that he’s also a prince, first in line to the throne of Bechuanaland (today’s Botswana). But despite the obstacles, it’s love.
“When the time comes for Seretse to return home to lead his people’s independence movement, he impulsively proposes to Ruth. She accepts, but no one else does — not her family nor his. Neither does South Africa’s government, which controls uranium Britain badly needs, and stands on the eve of making apartheid a national policy. They won’t tolerate an interracial couple leading a neighbouring country, so Britain begins to work against what once seemed like the simple love between Seretse and Ruth.”
The preview footage released suggests that A United Kingdom will be a significant achievement in filmmaking. Each cast member appears to working at their very best – although the similarities of dramatic nuance between the role played here by Jack Davenport, and the role he played in the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise are notable.
Particularly striking is the dialogue, however, which comes from a script by Guy Hibbert (Five Minutes Of Heaven). In a love story that could easily slide into melodrama, it appears that Hibbert keeps enough balance between the romance and the backdrop of international politics to keep the narrative stakes high, and the drama moving.
A United Kingdom is released in the UK on November 25th, 2016.
Source: The Film Stage