In the late 1940s, Prince Seretse Khama of Bechuanaland is studying law in Britain in preparation for his eventual ascension to the throne. There, the dashing prince falls in love with a white British clerk, Ruth Williams, and they plan to marry. While they suspect that his uncle, the Regent, would disapprove, nothing prepares them for the diplomatic firestorm and domestic political tumult their defiant love would spark. Now facing a citizenry leery of a white Briton as their Queen, the international opposition is even more unyielding from the British holding their land as a protectorate and fearful of South Africa's racist backlash to this affront to their apartheid domination. Against all odds, King Khama and Ruth must struggle to maintain their love and help their people in a land that would become the Republic of Botswana.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Directed by Amma Asante ("Belle") this is the true tale of a real-life fairy story, featuring a handsome prince and his love, who can never be his princess thanks to the Machiavellian scheming of court-do-gooders and bureaucrats.
The prince in this case is Seretse Kham (David Oyelowo, "Selma") , heir to the throne of Bechuanaland (now Botswana), who meets and falls in love with a lowly white Lloyd's of London clerk Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike, "Gone Girl", "The World's End"). The plot has many parallels with that of another film from earlier this year: "Loving" with Ruth Negga and Joel Egerton. As an inter-racial couple in 1947 this is taboo enough, but the fact that Kham is soon to be king in a country bordering the apartheid tinder-keg that is South Africa blows the affair up to be a diplomatic crisis.
Defying the officials he marries his true love, driving a wedge between both his own uncle (Vusi Kunene ) and sister (Terry Pheto) and making Ruth an outcast in both countries. As things turn from bad to worse, can true love conquer all their adversities?
Just everything about this film delights. Oyelowo and Pike - always a safe pair of hands - add real emotional depth to their roles. Their relationship feels natural and loving without either of them trying too hard. The estrangement of Ruth from her parents (particularly her father played by Nicholas Lyndhurst) is truly touching.
Another star turn is Harry Potter alumni Tom Felton, playing Rufus Lancaster - a weaselly and very unpleasant local official. I have a prediction.... that in 30 year's time, the young Potter actor that will be the 'Ian McKellen of his day' (that is, a world recognized great actor... not necessarily gay!) will be Felton.
Sam McCurdy ("The Descent") delivers cinematography of Africa that is vibrant (to be fair, for anyone lucky enough to visit Africa will know, cameras just love the place) and the John Barry-esque music by Patrick Doyle ("Murder on the Orient Express") is pitch perfect for the mood.
A beautifully crafted film that older viewers will just love.
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