Sometimes, an epic, in-your-face treatment, such as that seen in 1982's "Gandhi" or 2014's "Selma" is the best way to go with stories of bigotry, since such an approach gets facts across in an easily comprehensible way. Without it, they can become difficult to follow, as in last year's "Loving."
But there are obvious budgetary constraints at work here. As a result, members of Seretse's tribe have little to do except chant and sing in crowd sequences.
Similarly, the perfidy of British politicians, including Prime Minister Clement Attlee (Anton Lesser), is mostly kept off-screen, except for sneering appearances by diplomat Sir Alistair Canning (Jack Davenport). Canning opposes Seretse's union to such an extent, he forces the prince into exile.
Despite its narrative shortcomings, "A United Kingdom" does boast a strong moral component.
Ultimately, for example, official acceptance of a marriage that threatened to undermine Britain's fragile postwar remnants of empire depended not on a court ruling, but on the conscience of the British people. It was they who finally persuaded their political representatives that this couple was no menace to international relations.
Yet, except for the core romance and Ruth's struggles for acceptance, little of this complicated saga -- in addition to everything else, the machinations of an American diamond-mining company get thrown into the mix -- comes across clearly. There is inspiration to be found here. But it requires quite a bit of patience on the viewer's part to locate it.
The film contains brief sensuality and some racial slurs. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
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Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.
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"A United Kingdom" (Fox Searchlight)
Everyone's an archetype in this historical drama about an African prince (David Oyelowo) from the British protectorate of Bechuanaland (the future Botswana) who faced down mid-20th-century racial prejudice to marry a white office worker (Rosamund Pike) he met in post-World War II London. Although dealing in generalities can be an efficient way to boil down episodes of the past that are likely unfamiliar to modern audiences, it also hinders the storytelling. Thus, little about this complicated saga in which the core romance is opposed by the British and South African governments as well as by the royal husband's uncle (Vusi Kunene), who has long been the protectorate's acting regent, comes across clearly. Yet, despite its narrative shortcomings, director Amma Asante and screenwriter Guy Hibbert's film does boast a strong moral component. So there is inspiration to be found here. But it requires quite a bit of patience from viewers to locate it. Brief sensuality, some racial slurs. Catholic News Service classification, A-III -- adults. Motion Picture Association of America rating, PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
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"A United Kingdom" (Fox Searchlight) -- Catholic News Service classification, A-III -- adults. Motion Picture Association of America rating, PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.