TIFF 2016 Review: “A United Kingdom” ★★★★


A UNITED KINGDOM was in my short list to see during the Toronto International Film Festival, as the previous work of the extremely talented Amma Asante was solid enough to draw my attention. The story of Asante’s feature film evolves around super powerful mixed-race marriage between Seretse Khama, prince of Bechuanaland (many years later becomes first president of Botswana), and London office worker Ruth Williams, played by Rosamund Pike. But was the story told effectively or how much we learnt from the historical marriage written below?

The eyes of Seretse Ruth finds each other at London Mission Society mixer event when Seretse exactly was discussing equality with his peers. Ruth, who is an office worker seems also fond of him, as she says no to him when he invites her for their first dance. Shortly after, the couple decide to tie the knots, but instead of greetings, they receive unwelcoming response from Seretse’s uncle, as well as from the United Kingdom.

Over the course of the film, it’s obvious that both, Seretse and Ruth are depending on each other, as their support is crucial to face the challenges that comes from both sides of the countries. Being banished in exile, already pregnant Ruth has to stay alone in Africa, while Seretse fights his own battle to come back to his wife. In the meantime, as a true leader, Seretse manages to convince his own people in his choice of having a white wife, as the love he has towards Ruth is greater and stronger than any tradition, even if the tradition is over hundreds of years.

Assante tries to find the right balance between the racial issue, this time, Ruth as a white woman had to face in South Africa, while the political subject was way too important. Said that Assante had no issues with juggling with both topics while Rosamund Pike and David Oyelowe took care of everything else.

In conclusion, A UNITED KINGDOM is a beautiful film about how two people having each other wins the most important confrontation of that time. Oyelowo and Pike as the duo delivers a solid performance, while some of them were too intense to trigger an ovation or depth emotions. It is of course an important film to watch , as it once again shows that everyone has a right to love, no matter what color of your skin, belief, or the vision of life.

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