Happy Mother’s Day MMT Family! I wanted to give my quick opinion about a film that opened here in Philadelphia on Friday night, and one that some MMT winners advance screened last week. The movie is the highly acclaimed Belle, directed by Amma Asante and starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw (some may know her from the now cancelled NBC drama Undercovers with Boris Kodjoe) in the lead role as Dido Elizabeth Belle. The film also stars Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson, Penelope Wilton, Matthew Goode and Emily Watson.
Inspired by a 1779 painting of the real Dido Belle, screenwriter Misan Sagay created a beautifully brave, and at times bittersweet, story with a multi-faceted display of love during one of the world’s darkest periods. Born to a Royal Navy Admiral and an African slave, Belle is raised in England by her aristocratic great-uncle (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson) side-by-side with her cousin Elizabeth. The high-ranking of her family’s stature and the dichotomy of her treatment within it, her duplicitous treatment by society, and her increasing awareness of the improbability that her race contributes to finding true love within such a society are all themes explored in the film. In addition, Belle’s great-uncle’s pivotal decision as superior judge in a slave-trade/insurance case, and how his care of his niece may have impacted, is explored.
Now, most of you know I do not do spoilers, but this is one movie where I am finding it hard not to share! Sagay created some of the most amazing lines and moments in this film and the exceptional talent of the cast, especially Mbatha-Raw, delivers them all to the hilt. You can click here to go to the Fox Searchlight “Belle” website and check some of the clips out yourself!
And Amma Asante’s direction was spot on. Because it is a period piece, and I didn’t research running time prior to screening, I settled in believing it was going to be a lengthy film. Yet surprisingly, with just enough character development and introduction, and with precise movement,the film runs at 104 minutes. And it is a visual feast; especially the beautiful period costumes. “Belle” is a film that the audience can digest with ease and leave the theater filled with the power of love – self, romantic and agape.
Click here to see the synopsis and official trailer of Belle shared formerly in the giveaway post, and check below for the origins featurette video. And please stop back and leave a comment or two to let me know your thoughts about the film! 😉
Until next thought family, Thomasena