In the United Kingdom: going from serious to simplistic **1/2

The story: London, 1947. Heir to Bechuanaland, Seretse Khama (David Ayelowo) falls in love with an office worker, Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike). The feeling is mutual, in a world where interracial couples are not accepted. They will still get married. Will settle in the British protectorate, neighboring South Africa where apartheid will be introduced soon after. The families, the Botswana and British authorities: everything is against them. They will stand up.

Posted 24 Feb. 2017

Despite the good intentions of its director, In United Kingdom is a maddening film because of the weakness of a screenplay that transforms an important political, social and human episode into a simplistic romance.

As was the case with Beautiful, Amma Asante puts herself at the service of a little-known page of history, which she realizes… okay, without a strong signature, but with competence. Except that, even more than in Beautiful, what hurts here is the script. Signed Guy Hibbert (Eye in the Sky), it reduces complex and serious events to a backdrop for an “impossible” love story and many of its protagonists, to near-caricatures.

If, talent obliges, David Ayelowo and Rosamund Pike remain credible in scenes that are not, if Abena Ayivor is convincing in one of the strong and relevant moments of the feature film, Jack Davenport as an English diplomat borders on ridiculous. Unfortunately, he is not the only one.

There was the rise of apartheid, the rapacity of a government ready to cheat and lie so that the wealth of the protectorate did not escape it, the understandable anger of a black, poor population, which we want enslave and sees its leader place a white woman at his side. We are rather served a princess story that would not spoil the Disney collection.

These days, making this story known, even on the surface, is not without value. But in terms of depth and psychology, it deserved better than black and white.

* * 1/2

In United Kingdom. Biographical drama ofAmma Asante. With David Ayelowo, Rosamund Pike, Jack Davenport, Abena Ayivor. 1h51.

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Image courtesy of Fox Searchlight

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