A UNITED KINGDOM (2017) Score: B

Rated PG – 111 Minutes


Actor David Oyelowo first came to my attention for his role in THE BUTLER (2013); followed by playing Martin Luther King, Jr. in SELMA (2014). Rosamund Pike first came to my attention in 2014 when she was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar in the film GONE GIRL. Their chemistry together as a couple in this beautiful love story strengthens this true historical drama.

A UNITED KINGDOM unfolds slowly, the vision of director Amma Asante. It is almost as if we are reading a book. As each page is turned, their relationship is tested while surviving the ugly, bigoted world of racial segregation. The original book was penned by Susan Williams and the screenplay was written by Guy Hibbert.

The movie chronicles the courtship and marriage of Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo), heir to the throne of the dominant tribe in the country that eventually became Botswana. Ruth Williams was a middle-class clerk in London (Rosamund Pike). The story begins in London when Seretse comes to study law in the late 1940’s. At first, during their courtship, the dating of a white woman with a black man is not an issue.

The title of the film comes into focus and is better understood once Seretse and Ruth are married. I had forgotten that there was a long battle between the people of Bechuanaland — later to become Botswana, and the British government, who for years was the land’s protectorate. South Africa was the trump card in this political battle. Independence did not actually come until 1966.

At the end, I truly felt the strength of their love, their defiance of multiple governments and the pain and exile of families divided. After what we have experienced over the past year, I wonder if the battle for full racial equality will ever be won.

The movie was filmed in Botswana and England. The weakest part of movie is the title of the film itself. Sandwiched this weekend in-between LOGAN and Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, I am afraid that A UNITED KINGDOM will struggle at the box office. And that would be a shame.

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