Although A United Kingdom is an historical biographical film, it examines themes of race, love, duty and honour in a very modern context. Director Amma Asante has successfully crafted a film that features both a moving narrative and two completely committed lead performances.
Leading A United Kingdom’s cast is British thespian David Oyelowo, who stars as Sir Seretse Khama, the young prince of Bechuanaland who is destined to be king. Not only does Oyelowo have the charisma, poise, and decorum required to portray a monarch, but the film’s subject matter is of intense personal importance to him. In both his work and private life, Oyelowo has continued to take on projects that deal with the necessity for equality and the fight to end racism, and the narrative of A United Kingdom’s speaks to both of these issues.
The real life Seretse married his white wife Ruth out of love and devotion, but also to create an image of a united Africa that he wanted to create. Oyelowo expresses this exact sentiment in a tearfully charged scene of high drama, where he declares his love for his wife before his people, with the fate of his leadership on the line.
Paired with Oyelowo is fellow British actress Rosamund Pike, who is equally captivating on screen as Lady Ruth Williams Kharma. While cinema going audiences are by no means oblivious to the long line of queens who have graced the silver screen, Pike’s Ruth is a very different type of ruler. This working class lass has a very steep learning curve in what it means to be a leader, but she overcomes it with warmth and enthusiasm. Watching Pike bond with the tribeswomen of Bechuanaland also offers many special moments, particularly as they begin to accept her as their sister, and eventually as the mother of their nation.
A United Kingdom’s director, Amma Asante, takes great pride in telling this captivating tale of a mixed-race power couple who became trailblazers in many ways. With a focus on narrative and character, Asante utilises breathtaking production design, wardrobe, make-up and cinematography to bring this important story to life.
A United Kingdom is an extremely moving piece of cinema that chronicles one of the most incredible love stories of the 20th century. Informative, passionate and intensely moving, it’s sure to turn heads come awards season.
Image: EOne Films