Based on the true story of Prince Seretse Khama of Bechuanaland (now Botswana), who in the 1940s shocked the world when he married a white woman from a typing pool in London, A United Kingdom is part historical biopic, part racial divide all tied up with a nice little love story.
As the future king of Bechuanaland, Seretse’s (David Oyelowo) marriage to Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike) was not only forbidden by their families, but also by the British and South African governments. However, love prevails and Seretse and Ruth lay the groundwork for an independent Botswana. Interestingly, it is Ruth who develops into a strong character as she is separated from her husband for months during her first pregnancy and the birth of their daughter, while Seretse grows increasingly weaker.
Jack Davenport and Tom Felton play the British government villains in remarkably similar stance to their Pirates of the Caribbean (Davenport’s Norrington) and Harry Potter (Felton’s Malfoy) roles.
While clearly the telling of an important story and imbued with plenty of passionate speeches, A United Kingdom is stretched too thinly and could easily have had 20 minutes shaved off the 1-hour 51-minute running time. Overall, director Amma Asante highlights issues on racism, sexism and colonialism with a rose-tinted hue, and the freeze-frame happy ending is a little too cheesy for comfort.