Movie Review: Belle

Directed by Amma Asante

5 Stars

Though 2014’s Belle, directed by Amma Asante, is based on true events and adapted from a 2014 book of a similar name, I can neither evaluate its historical accuracy nor compare it to the preceding book. I can merely comment—or rather rave—on its delivery in this medium. It follows the early years of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate, mixed-race daughter of the late Royal Navy Admiral Captain Sir John Lindsay, a good man and the second son of Britain's Lord Chief Justice. At this point in history, someone of Dido’s complexion might not be kept a house slave on a plantation, much less in the fine linens and high standing in the household of an aristocratic British superior. Hers is a fascinating story in which she navigates the implications of her extraordinary circumstances—a maze of racism, gender inequality and sexual harassment, classism and love, and how they all affect every significant relationship in her life.

We spectate as a fresh acquaintanceship, initially of evident animosity, what becomes a gentle romance. One forbidden if not doomed by various social constraints—not at all rushed despite the movie not being agonizingly long. As a matter of fact, in those respects, Belle might just rival the 2005 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. Simultaneously, but not at all shoved to the back burner, we witness some of the world’s first steps towards societies truly concerned about human rights with respect to race.

The story is propelled by an amazing script and actors who give unquestionable performances. To name a few, Elizabeth Belle, Sam Reid playing an intelligent and determined man yet sensitive inamorato, and Tom Felton playing yet another crude character. Needless to say, Belle is a painfully underrated long-time personal favourite, suitable for those ages 14+.

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