A United Kingdom


Inspiring hstorical drama based on story of Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams Discuss this article

© ITP Images

The kingdom in question, of course, is not the one within the British Isles, but Botswana – or Bechuanaland, as it was known in the post-war years when crown prince Seretse Khama (Oyelowo) came to London to study, and fell in love with shopkeeper’s daughter Ruth Williams (Pike).

Their subsequent marriage scandalised not just the tabloid-buying public but the British civil service, the tribespeople of Botswana and – most dangerously – the government of neighbouring South Africa, where the new apartheid laws enshrined the separation of the races into law.

Belle director Amma Asante’s tribute to this unlikely couple is exactly the film you imagine it’s going to be: handsome, honey-coloured and morally simplistic. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing: Asante’s confidence behind the camera, coupled with a solid script from TV veteran Guy Hibbert and a pair of committed central performances, ensure that it is at times genuinely moving.

Oyelowo exudes quiet dignity but he can belt out a rousing speech when he needs to, and Pike’s transformation is excellent.

But in the main it’s just a little too cosy and sentimental for its own good.

The bottom line
Two great performances, but a little safe.

By Tom Huddleston
Time Out Doha,

A United Kingdom

  • Duration: 101
  • Released: Thu, 16 Mar
  • Language: English
  • Director: Amma Asante
  • Stars: David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, Jack Davenport

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