A United Kingdom
Director: Amma Asante
Cast: David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, Jack Davenport, Terry Pheto
Country of Origin: UK 2016 105 mins. (12A)
Released by Pathe UK
An emotionally gutsy, true love story that reminds us of a not too distant past when a mixed race marriage was a forbidden love.
A chance meeting at a London Missionary Society dance between law student Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo) heir to the throne of the Bomangwati people of Bechuanaland, a UK protectorate now known as Botswana and Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike), an insurance clerk would bring to bear the powerful forces of colonial Britain. A whirlwind romance and marriage in 1948, despite fierce opposition from family, friends, the tabloid media, the British civil service and Seretse's own people led to an international diplomatic crisis. A Labour Government and Winston Churchill considered diamonds and gold more important than equality and were conscious of the reaction of South Africa with it's strict apartheid laws. The course of action was to bring the full force of imperialism to destroy the marriage. The bullying techniques of Sir Alastair Canning (Jack Davenport) '- Have you no shame,' and his civil service hanger-on Rufus Lancaster (Tom Felton) and exiling Seretse back to London while Ruth remained in Africa had no effect - they didn't take into account a woman who was in love, grew in strength and confidence and was up for a fight.
Stunning cinematography contrasting a sombre post war London with the glorious colours of Bechuanaland, Guy Hibbert's sharp script with its emotional impact and of course the central characters strong performances make for great viewing. Some may suggest that it's a bit too easy going and skims over a dirty colonial past. 'A United Kingdom' is a story that needs to be told and it's a heart strings tug. Love triumphed over prejudice, ignorance and oppression.