A United Kingdom: Film Review


A United Kingdom sheds light on the incredible story of Seretse Khama, the heir to the throne in Bechuanaland (modern day Botswana), who falls in love and marries white British office worker Ruth while studying in England in the 1940s, much to the distaste of their families and the British government. I never got a chance to see it when it showed at the London Film Festival so I’m glad I caught this inspiring story now.

David Oyelowo plays Khama, who meets Ruth (Rosamund Pike) at a dance thanks to her sister (Laura Carmichael) and after they wed, they move back to Africa so he can take up his position as leader. It’s not that simple – his people are offended he’s married someone from a different race and from outside the community and question his right to lead, and the ruling British government (represented in the country by Tom Felton and Jack Davenport) does all it can to break them up.

It is staggering what Ruth and Seretse overcame to stay together and it makes you wonder if you could do the same. I don’t think I could remain in my marriage if everyone else was against it and trying to keep us apart. The amount of obstacles they faced was unbelievable. It’s the first time I’ve seen a white person be in the minority, ostracized and considered an outcast. It was powerful, shows how minorities are still viewed today and how the views on interracial marriage is still quite taboo.

I didn’t like the way the story was written at first. The UK-based introduction felt clichéd, unrealistic and unremarkable so I wasn’t invested in them as a couple until they began being tested in Africa. It also took me a long time to warm to Pike. I wasn’t confident about her casting and she felt quite cold but once she’s in Africa alone raising their baby, you are fully behind her. I had no such worries with Oyelowo, who is kind, warm and killer at giving a stirring speech. It’s a shame how typecast Felton and Davenport have become as baddies.

This story is incredible, inspiring and uplifting and it’s amazing that it’s true. It brought tears to my eyes because they were awe-inspiring people. I couldn’t believe how much politics were involved – the British government mostly objected to their marriage because it would upset their diplomatic relationship with South Africa more than anything else – and that shocked me.

I don’t think this will win any awards because it is told in a straightforward, unremarkable way which is fine because the extraordinary story makes it exciting and captivating regardless. This is an important story which should be seen by all.

In cinemas Friday 

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