The First Lady of Botswana

A United Kingdom

united_kingdom

Director: Amma Asante

Cast: David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, Jack Davenport, Tom Felton, Laura Carmichael, Terry Pheto, Vusi Kunene, Theo Landey, Jack Lowden

Oscar nominee Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) reunites with Jack Reacher co-star David Oyelowo (The Paperboy, Queen of Katwe) in the Amma Asante directed biographical drama A United Kingdom focusing on the interracial love story between a working class British girl Ruth Williams and Prince Seretse Khama of Botswana. The year was 1947.

Whilst Belle director Amma Asante does not possess a gift for providing a truly compelling biographical story, A United Kingdom is saved by solid performances by Pike and Oyelowo along with a host of supporting actors including Jack Davenport (The Talented Mr Ripley) as a stuffy British High Commissioner Alistair Canning and a nasty cameo by Tom Felton (Belle, Rise of the Planet of the Apes) as a colonial upstart Rufus Lancaster.

A United Kingdom begins just after World War II in the fog ridden streets of London, as Britain is recovering from one of the worst wars in human history while battling to maintain its grip on its colonial territories. Furthermore, geographically significant South Africa is about to be plunged into one of the darkest periods of its history, as the segregationist policies of Apartheid would be put into law in 1948.

Against this historical backdrop, Ruth Williams accompanies her sister Muriel played by Downton Abbey’s Laura Carmichael (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) to a dance organised by the London missionary society. There she meets the intelligent and charismatic law student Seretse Khama wonderfully played by the highly underrated British actor David Oyelowo.

After a brief romance Khama and Williams decide to marry causing a diplomatic row both in London and in Khama’s homeland of Bechuanaland which at the time was a British protectorate. The British authorities not wishing to upset their most powerful former colony on the tip of Africa, the mineral rich yet increasingly segregated South Africa, instruct Seretse Khama to go into exile.

united_kingdom_ver6

Khama on the other hand also has to face the suspicion of his own people, the Bamangwato People of Bechuanaland of which his uncle Tshekedi was regent, played by South African actor Vusi Kunene. Even as Seretse brings an English woman back to the hot and dry plains of Botswana, Williams is initially greeted with contempt by his own sister Naledi, wonderfully played by Terry Pheto (Tsotsi, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom).

As the narrative progresses, director Asante chooses to focus on the passionate love story between Khama and Williams instead of all the diplomatic intrigue so A United Kingdom is strong on images of reconciliation and fortitude but weak on a clear historic timeline. What saves A United Kingdom are brilliant performances by Oyelowo and Pike although the romance will not have a broader appeal beyond those that have a historical knowledge of Britain’s relationship with the former protectorate of Bechuanaland now known as Botswana.

Incidentally, Botswana due to the discovery of diamonds, is now one of the wealthiest and peaceful democracies in Africa despite its sparse population. Ruth Williams also eventually become the first Lady of Botswana when her husband Seretse whose political party the Bechuanaland Democratic Party won the 1965 Democratic elections as Botswana gained their independence from Britain on the 30th September 1966.

A United Kingdom is a fascinating and cleverly titled film. A well-acted and beautifully portrayed love story historically tying Britain with one of the lesser known regions of Southern Africa.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Williams_Khama

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seretse_Khama

 

Comments are closed.

Film Directors & Festivals
Reviews and Awards
Review Calender
December 2016
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  
  • Fipresci Prizes ‘Leila’s Brothers,’ ‘The Blue Caftan,’ ‘Love According to Dalva’
    Just hours before this year’s Cannes Palme d’Or prize announcement, the International Federation of Film Critics (Fipresci) has awarded “Leila’s Brothers” its International Critics’ Prize for best film inCannes main competition.   The title is pointed. Leila has four brothers, but it is Leila, played by Iranian star Taraneh Alidoosti (“The Salesman), who dominates proceedings, […]
    John Hopewell
  • Cannes Buyers Flock to Leonor Serraille’s Competition Film ‘Mother and Son’ (EXCLUSIVE)
    MK2 Films has locked major territory deals on Leonor Serraille’s drama “Mother and Son” which world premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival and garnered strong reviews. “Mother and Son” charts the lives of a young African woman, Rose, and two of her four children, Jean and Ernest, who come to France from the […]
    elskes
  • The Kid Laroi Re-Signs With Scooter Braun for Management
    The saga of The Kid Laroi’s management continues. The Australian singer has re-signed with Scooter Braun for management, a month after deciding to exit Adam Leber’s Rebel Management, Variety has confirmed. Braun’s SB Projects roster includes Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, J Balvin, Dan + Shay and Tori Kelly, among others. Laroi first signed […]
    Shirley Halperin
  • ‘All That Breathes,’ ‘Mariupolis 2’ Win Cannes Documentary Awards
    Indian filmmaker Shaunak Sen’s “All That Breathes” has won the Cannes Film Festival’s top documentary award, the Golden Eye. The film won the documentary grand jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and was acquired by HBO Documentary Films during Cannes, where it played as a special screening. Set in Indian capital […]
    Naman Ramachandran
  • Pedro Almodovar Endorses Alauda Ruiz De Azua’s ‘Lullaby’: ‘It’s the Best Spanish Debut For Years’ (EXCLUSIVE)
    Pedro Almodóvar has put his considerable weight behind Spaniard Alauda Ruiz de Azúa’s first feature, ”Lullaby” (“Cinco Lobitos”) as it has initiated a spirited run at Spain’s box office. “It is undoubtedly the best debut in Spanish cinema for years,” Almodóvar announced in a statement, describing the mother-daughter relationship drama as “a portrait of the […]
    John Hopewell
  • Read More
    Different providers offer different cell phones, so take a look at the options from each provider to choose the right one for you. You may also want to look into any promotions that the providers have to offer, such as free cell phones in exchange for signing a contract. Tags: 2gmhass90