A United Kingdom (PG)
Starring David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike Directed by Amma Asante
The historical interracial romance A United Kingdom based on Susan Williams’s 2006 book Colour Bar is the true story of Seretse Khama, King of Botswana, shocking the world by marrying London clerk Ruth Williams in 1947, and the couple facing down opposition from their families as well as the British and South African governments: Botswana was then the British protectorate Bechuanaland, and the English were pressured to support South Africa’s apartheid policies for access to the country’s minerals.
These diplomats are as self-serving and treacherous as Seretse is noble, delivering passionate speeches.
Countering such broad-stroke characters are fortunately the fine leads: Producer-star David Oyelowo is a dignified Seretse; Rosamund Pike shows the steeliness beneath Ruth and her determination to win over her husband’s tribal nation, understandably hostile to having a white queen.
British director Amma Asante was born to Ghanaian immigrants. Which explains her sensitivity to cultural assimilation, the theme also of her 2014 Belle.
In this biodrama interweaving the romantic and the political it is the post-war colonial politics that is the most interesting, and the most relevant to our own current divided times for celebrating tolerance. (* * * ½) Photo: Shaw Organisation