Movie Review: A United Kingdom

Movie review: A United Kingdom

A United Kingdom takes place in the 1940s, and is based on the real story of Prince Seretse Khama, who married a white woman from England and brought her back to Bechuanaland (modern-day Botswana) to presumably rule beside him as queen, once his uncle confirmed him as king. Things don't go as planned, however, and their marriage creates quite a stir, both in Bechuanaland and in England.

Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike) goes along to a dance with her sister, Muriel (Laura Carmichael), to keep her company. There, she meets Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo), who intrigues her; later, he asks her out on a proper date, and they begin spending more and more time together. At the end of that first date, Khama reveals to her that he's the prince of Bechuanaland, an African country, and that his education in England has ended; therefore, his uncle expects him back in Bechuanaland soon.

Ruth and Seretse know that they probably wouldn't be allowed to marry in Africa, so they marry in England before they leave, and Ruth accompanies Seretse back to Bechuanaland. There, they meet stern opposition, both by his uncle, the current regent of the country, and by England, which at the time was basically 'moderating' Bechuanaland, as it was a protectorate of the English government.

The acting in this film is phenomenal - if you've seen David Oyelowo in anything (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Queen of Katwe, or Selma, to start), you know that he's a fantastic actor, and he was great here, too. I also liked Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) in the role of Ruth, his wife - her character is a little naive in the beginning of the film, and not entirely quite sure of what she's getting in to by marrying Seretse, but by the end of the film, Ruth has been widely accepted in Bechuanaland, and has grown up quite a bit. Jack Davenport and Draco Malfoy Tom Felton also have minor roles here, as emissaries of the British government, and are awesomely slimy in their roles.

Yes, see this movie. I will say that it's a bit slow - I was checking my watch throughout the film - but it's worth seeing. I had never heard of this true-life story before seeing the movie, either, so it was interesting to learn more about what is now modern-day Botswana, and how the country first became democratic - and the sacrifices that people had to make to fight for it to turn democratic.

A United Kingdom is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 111 minutes, and is in theaters today, February 24th. 4 stars out of 5.


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