Review this movie
Jun 20, 2014Whilst not carrying the gravitas attached to such films as 'Lincoln' and '12 Years a Slave' this is still an engaging and substantial period drama distinguished by a good solid story forthrightly told. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is excellent in the lead as the illegitimate daughter of a West Indian slave who is raised by her white Grandfather, Lord Mansfield, at Kenwood House. She is well supported by the rest of the cast, but in particular Sam Reid, and the always reliable Tom Wilkinson as the afore mentioned Lord. Based on a true story it is intelligently written, never boring and also contains more than a few scenes that powerfully stir the emotions. Production design and costumes are beautifully rendered and Rachael Portman's ever present score adds atmosphere, even as it laces the drama like treacle over a pudding.… Collapse
Jun 5, 2014A totally absorbing fact based story about a young black woman adopted into an upper class British family. The leading actress has to play against some of the leading actors of British film, and she more than holds her own with an exquisitely modulated and deeply felt performance. The film looks wonderful and avoids both sentimentality and high minded preachiness. I am not surprised so many viewers love it.… Expand
May 27, 2014This movie is beautifully written and appropriately casted. I was mesmerized by the language and depth of each character. It certainly presented a different perspective on the slave trade and slave relationships with their captors.
The fact that this was taken from a real life Belle is even more enlightening because so many of our (Blacks or African Americans/ Mulattoes) stories have not been told or told accurately and in such beautiful detail against the back drop of a dysfunctional wealthy European family.
I enjoyed it very much and can't wait to share it with my students this fall.… Expand
May 25, 2014This is based on the true story of the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a British aristocrat that plays out like a Jane Austin novel. The emotions are restrained, as issues of class, society, wealth and love are played out with a racial twist. That being said, it's beautifully mounted like the classic Masterpiece Theatre. The cast is uniformly strong and the look is rich and lovely. Some of the writing is sharp, while the plot points walk a predictable path. It's completely involving, but the drama does occasionally drag the pace a bit. Still, it's ideal for those who appreciate tasteful, beautifully-crafted period films.… Expand
May 16, 2014A beautiful, well-written period piece that examines how various rigid social conventions can be overcome by those determined enough to see change implemented. Inspiring without being cliched, "Belle" shows how courageous, idealistic individuals were able to bring about change in their lives -- and their society -- simply by being true to their convictions -- and themselves. Well worth a look.
May 16, 2014This being the 20th Friday of 2014 it means I have seen a minimum of 20 new movies and “Belle” without a doubt is, so far, the best movie of the year. It combines a beautiful love story with a realistic look at the society of that time plus a law suit that could change history. “Belle” is based on a true story.
There are 3 main story lines in the film, each of equal importance, so to say one is the main story is misleading. The first introduced story is that of an illegitimate daughter, Dido Elizabeth Belle, (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) of a white British naval officer, (Mathew Goode) and a Negro woman who dies when Dido is still a child. The father, Sir John Lindsay, acknowledges the child as his and brings her to his uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and aunt Lady Mansfield (Emily Watson) who are already raising another niece Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon). Dido and Elizabeth are treated as equals by their uncle and aunt but not by society.
We see that Dido will have a substantial dowry from her father and Elizabeth will have none, it is the latter who gets many privileges while the latter, strictly because of being a mulatto, cannot enjoy a dinner with guests but can join the company and that is just a minor consequence of society of that time---the 18th century.
Another story line involves Lord Mansfield, as the Chief Justice of England and Wales, having to rule in the Zong massacre case that could change the course of slavery and bringing it to an end or continue what the British Empire has always done and is accepted as the right of the privileged.
The third story line is of the love affair between a vicar’s son, John Davinier (Sam Reid) studying the law and Dido.
Okay, full disclosure--I am a cry baby and couldn’t stop crying the last 30 minutes of the film!
Like most British films every part is cast perfectly from Miranda Richardson who will forget color when it comes to ensuring her sons (Tom Felton and James Norton) future to Penelope Wilton as the ‘old maid’ aunt who is a governess to the girls.
While Sam Reid shines as one of many of Dido’s suitors it is Gugu Mbatha-Raw who is definitely the breakout star and there is no justice if she doesn’t win many awards for this film. Aside from beauty, eyes that reflect everything she is feeling and the absolutely mesmerizing way she holds herself she will not fail to touch you.
Only the basic facts of Dido’s life are known--be sure to stay for the credits and what happened to the people involved--the director Amma Asante who wrote the script based on a screenplay by Misan Sagay makes an almost perfect picture.
THIS IS A MUST SEE MOVIE AND YOU MUST SEE GUGU MBATHA-RAW!… Expand
Sometimes you find yourself wishing for an alternative version of the film unfolding before your eyes. ‘Belle’ is a good-looking and exceedingly polite film where perhaps a more complex one with less good manners would have been better.
Though the inventions of Misan Sagay's script emphasize concerns over dowries and social rank that will be grating for many contemporary viewers, extracting little of the humor that Austen regularly found in such hang-ups, the picture's sour notes are balanced by fine performances and clear historical appeal.