UK – drama – PG – 108 mins
Director: Amma Asante
Writer: Misan Sagay
Stars: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson
This opulent costume drama delves into a deep, important topic: set in 1769 when the abolition of slavery was looming. Dido (otherwise known as Belle, and played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is an illegitimate, intelligent young coloured woman who refuses to accept her decreed place in the world. As a six year- old, Belle was handed into the care of her great-uncle and aunt, Lord and Lady Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson). As she grows up, Belle forms a friendship with her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray, and an alliance with discerning young lawyer John Davinier. Belle and Davinier become involved in trying to stop the insurance-earning slave deaths on ships that were so common at the time. This production has everything – high drama, style, historic authenticity, strong direction and acting. The stellar cast also includes Miranda Richardson. The story is based on a real mystery emanating from a portrait of the time.