A United Kingdom (2016)

Reviewer: Charity Bishop

It's unfathomable to the modern mind that not so long ago, interracial marriage was forbidden and even illegal. One biracial marriage changed the course of history for an African nation; this touching, reverent film explores the emotional dynamics and political forces at work behind the scenes as they fought to hold onto their union, without abandoning his country.

Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike) has never connected to anyone before the way she sparks with Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo), a charming African in London. The two trade jazz records and go to dances, but their relationship becomes controversial when she discovers he is the king of an African tribe and must soon return home. Seretse does not want to leave her behind, and does the unthinkable in 1960's Britain: he proposes. She accepts. Not only does her family throw a fit, his uncle and regent refuses to acknowledge the match... and the British government sends Sir Alastair Canning (Jack Davenport) to pressure her to back down.

No one gives an inch... and it soon becomes apparent, once they arrive in Africa, that political forces beyond their imagination are at work to destroy them, pull them apart, and take Seretse from his throne. What unfolds over two hours is a very human drama, full of powerful emotion and intricate politics. It will make you laugh, cry, feel indignant on their behalf, and want to throttle the forces that keep them apart. Ultimately, it is an inspiring true story of triumph, with an unbelievable (if you are unfamiliar with their story) plot twist. After we were unable to find it showing locally last winter, I watched it over a weekend as a rental with a friend and it enamored both of us enough that we stayed up late just to watch the supplemental on the disk.

Everything about this film is exquisite, from the musical score to the choice of actors; their chemistry is natural, their separation heartbreaking. It shows a different side to the British empire, and manages to inform the audience of the delicate politics in play between North and South Africa in the 60's without breaking away from the main love story. The courage of these two people is remarkable. Don't miss it.

Sexual Content:
A scene between a married couple where they undress one another and kiss (extended, romantic) on their wedding night; they fall out of frame. A woman teases a man with her bare leg after he says he didn't just marry her for her looks.
 
Language:
Minor profanities. Men hurl racial insults on the street and a white woman is called a "whore" for being with a black man.
 
Violence:
Several men attack and beat up a black man for walking with a white woman; she tries to intervene and is punched in the nose.

Other:
None.