To United Kingdom | The duty

This historical drama with the tunes of an old melodious TV movie features Seretse Khama, played by the talented and charismatic David Oyelowo (who wowed the gallery by lending his features to Martin Luther King in Selma of Ava DuVernay), the man to whom Botswana owes its independence. Interested in interracial relations, Amma Asante was arguably the ideal director to chronicle the scandal caused by the marriage of Khama, then heir to the throne of Bechuanaland, to an English rose, Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike, underused), to the end of the 1940s. Alas! Like his previous film, Beautiful, where she told the true story of the mixed-race daughter of an English admiral, the filmmaker places more emphasis on romance than on politics. If she succeeds in conveying the climate of terror and injustice of the Apartheid regime, Amma Asante depicts all the characters surrounding the Khama couple as beings devoid of humanity and compassion, the British dignitaries as well as the members of the prince’s family. The result is a Manichean historical drama that tells us too little about Khama’s exploits.

In United Kingdom

★★ 1/2

UK, 2016, 111 mins. Historical drama by Amma Asante. With David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, Vusi Kunene, Terry Pheto, Jack Davenport, Tom Felton and Jessica Oyelowo.

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