A United Kingdom
Forget overrated films like Moonlight and Fences. This film hits racism between the eyes.
With this movie, David Oyelowo gives another fantastic performance in a film based on a true story. Off of his heartwarming performances in last year’s Queen of Katwe and the earlier Selma (2014), Mr. Oyelowo hits a cinematic triple crown with his captivating performance in A United Kingdom.
Here, he plays Seretse Khama, a king-in-waiting in Botswana who has been studying in England. The year is 1947, and his life becomes incredibly complicated when he marries Ruth Williams, a white working class English woman. Rosamund Pike matches Mr. Oyelowo’s performance in her role as Ruth, and it makes you forget her tormented role as the wretched wife in Gone Girl (2014).
Our interracial couple are jeered and condemned in England, and Ruth’s father swears that he will never talk to her again. Ironically, when they fly to Africa so that Seretse can assume the throne, important people in his country have no use for a ruler married to a white woman.
At its core, this is a moving love story about a couple who will assume all risks given their dedication to each other. Their unashamed joy in each others arms will bring a smile to your face and an occasional tear to your eye. This is an inspirational movie on multiple levels.
But what this story captures is the racism permeating Britain at the end of World War II. It was at this time that the government in South Africa was just gaining a firm foothold, resulting in apartheid spreading into neighboring countries like Botswana. In other words, if a European government wanted to maintain colonial control in African countries which contained enormous mineral deposits, then accepting apartheid seemed like a small price to pay.
The governmental leaders in Britain from Winston Churchill on down appear disgustingly shameful. For example, they had no problem with luring Seretse to London where he was banned from returning to his homeland by an order signed by Churchill himself. Forcing Seretse to live on a different continent from his wife and small daughter who were left behind in Africa didn’t seem to remotely bother a single British official.
As in Queen of Katwe, the end of this film allows you to see actual pictures of our hero and heroine as they appeared in real life. In addition, it is also worth remembering that Mr. Oyelowo, a British citizen, is married to a white actress, Jessica, who also appeared in this film. They have been married for 18 years and have four children.
Mr. Oyelowo is an actor who deserves recognition on the national stage.