Dir. Amma Asante, UK, 2014, 104 min., PG, DCP Official Website
Fans of English period drama are accustomed to its gorgeous settings, social graces, and sophisticated language, but until now no film has brought both the glory and the contradictions of that life to the screen in such a powerful fashion. The true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate, bi-racial daughter of a Royal Navy admiral in 18th-century Britain, BELLE is as beautiful and romantic as any Jane Austen adaptation, but with new insights into its time. Also starring Emily Watson, Matthew Goode, and Tom Wilkinson.
"Surprisingly elegant and emotionally satisfying...That the film still works as well as it does is due to not only its polished craftsmanship and disarming comedy-of-manners approach, but also its fascinating insights into the conflicted mindset of British society, particularly in response to the poised and exquisite dark-skinned woman who suddenly appears in their midst." - Justin Chang - Variety