The plot feels like a Jane Austen novel infused with a hot-potato political issue, but this is actually a true story. It's been somewhat fictionalised, but the central facts are accurate, and while the production is perhaps a bit too polished for its own good, the solid acting and filmmaking make the story involving and provocative. And its themes feel just as relevant today.
In 1769 London, a young half-black girl named Dido Belle is taken by her soldier father (Matthew Goode) to live with his uncle, the Lord Chief Justice Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson). With his wife (Emily Watson) and sister (Penelope Winton), he is already caring for another niece, and the two girls grow up as inseparable friends. Hidden from society, Dido (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) inherits a small fortune from her father. And while Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) is penniless, her white skin makes her a more suitable spouse. Then family friend Lady Ashford (Miranda Richardson) foists her son James (Tom Felten) on Elizabeth. To their horror, his brother Oliver (James Norton) falls for Dido. But she's more interested in an impoverished law student (Sam Reid).
Along with these rather standard period-movie romantic shenanigans, there's a major subplot about Lord Mansfield's imminent ruling in the first court case to take on the slave trade, which could destabilise the entire British Empire. And this is where the film jolts into something significant: the UK's top judge had an adopted mixed-race daughter who probably influenced the first landmark decision against slavery. Meanwhile, director Amma Asante also vividly portrays the gritty realities of this young black woman's precarious position in society.
Continue reading: Belle Review
While women in the audience may find resonance in the comical prickliness, this film remains more of a stage play than an actual movie. Indeed, playwright Hirons has adapted the script from her play When Women Wee, but it's such a broad farce that we never quite believe any of it on-screen. Although two of the actresses nicely underplay their characters for the cameras.
The story takes place almost entirely in the ladies' room at a British nightclub, where the disorganised Sam (Smith) is having a night out with her friends: shameless maneater Chanel (Winstone), trashy Saskia (Hoare) and the too-nice Paige (Steele). Then Sam runs into the posh Michelle (Nash) and her gorgeous French friend Jess (Chaplin), and decides to ditch her pals. But the club isn't big enough to avoid them for long, and things get increasingly messy for everyone as the night progresses. Meanwhile, the restroom attendant (Fiori) just laughs at their melodrama.
With Sam at the centre, every other woman is essentially a stereotype carefully written to convey some aspect of femininity. By contrast, the men are barely defined at all, so only two register, both of them unusually nice: Sam's ex (Warren) and a guy (Balfour) she chats to in the smoking area. But in this large ensemble, only Sheridan and Winstone manage to give their characters three dimensions, mainly because they create properly cinematic performances that rely on understated details rather than histrionics.
Continue reading: Powder Room Review
Damian Jones and Sam Sarpong - Damian Jones , Demetrius Jones, Sam Sarpong Thursday 16th August 2012 Sam Sarpong has a meeting with NBC Universal, along with writers and producers of the film 'Angels Landing' to discuss his role in the up and coming project
Sam Sarpong and Damian Jones - Chase James, Demetrius Jones, Sam Sarpong, Damian Jones and Carlos Aleman Thursday 16th August 2012 Sam Sarpong has a meeting with NBC Universal, along with writers and producers of the film 'Angels Landing' to discuss his role in the up and coming project