When Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo), the heir to the throne of Botswana, falls in love with and marries Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike), a white woman from London it causes an international stir. Together they have to fight for their love and for Seretse’s right to be King of his country.
A film like A United Kingdom sinks or swims on its lead performers and their chemistry but luckily Pike and Oyelowo feel like such a believable couple. From the first moment they meet, you can believe they’re falling in love and their relationship grows stronger throughout the film as they each encounter bigotry from both their families.
Alistair Canning (Jack Davenport) and Rufus Lancaster (Tom Felton) are the British bureaucrats who have interests in Botswana and who rules it. They are the faces of British politics in A United Kingdom and are as smarmy and conniving as you’d expect them to be. They believe they know all and know better than the people of Botswana and it’s a pleasure to see them proven wrong.
Naledi Khama’s (Terry Pheto) relationship with her brother and her sister-in-law Ruth is an unexpected delight. Naledi is as against their marriage, and Ruth in particular, just like anyone else to begin with but as their story progresses, Naledi and Ruth learn to work together and gain an understanding of one another. Seeing female characters put aside their differences and work together is always a delight. They become strong allies and each use their power and status to try and do the best for the people of Botswana.
A United Kingdom is an incredible true story that really should be more common knowledge. Not only is it a wonderful love story about love conquering all, but it’s about politics and international relations and racial tensions in Britain and around the world. It is also a beautiful film and the cinematography of both London and Botswana is stunning. It is seriously a very nice-looking film, and the contrasts between England and Botswana work so well together but it never makes one inferior to the other.
A United Kingdom is a wonderful film with some brilliant performances. It might make such a true and powerful story more like a fairy tale but that almost adds to the romance. 4/5.