Gugu Mbatha-Raw takes the title role alongside Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson, Emily Watson and Canada’s Sarah Gadon in the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate, bi-racial daughter of a Royal Navy admiral in 18th-century Britain.
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Historically significant story, fabulous costumes and a love interest too. Recommended if you like this sort of thing, though I take a few points off for the shmaltzy mood "music", a Hollywood convention unfortunately adopted by some European film makers as well, hence 3.7 stars.
Belle is a conventional but affecting film about a black female aristocrat in 18th century Britain who fights for her agency in a white supremacist & misogynistic society. Based on a real story, the film has a feminist & anti-racist streak throughout & it rings true in spite of its largely white & British aristocratic setting. It's a good enough film to think it could have been fleshed out into a masterpiece.
A richly directed film from Amma Asante that offers fair portrayal of Britain's shameful slave trade and double standard social conventions which though is often emotionally manipulative never pulls it punches from social realism. Richly acted all around with kudos to Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sarah Gadon and Tom Wilkinson. A wonderfully written film that may well be heir apparent to the Merchant-Ivory canon.
3.7 stars. I enjoyed this considerably more than I expected. Deftly told and exquisitely well-judged. Sometimes I felt like it existed to educate people like my white grandparents about race politics [which it did!] but that belies the importance of having a heroine like Belle on screen, especially for young women of colour. Bleak that a costume drama with a PoC protag should be quietly revolutionary, but it is.
Even though the film is far from being a masterpiece, technically it's a nicely made film with a very good performance by Gugu Mbatha-Raw. However, the awful awful Sam Reid brings down the film's quality.