Tom Wilkinson stars in 'Belle'
UK cinemagoers! Stuck for something to see at the cinema this weekend? Look no further than Tom Wilkinson's new movie Belle - inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed race daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay.
Raised by her aristocratic great uncle Lord Mansfield (Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle is forced to watch on as her cousin Elizabeth chases suitors for her marriage, leaving her to wonder whether she will ever find love. After meeting a young vicar's son hell belt on changing society, he and Belle help shape Lord Mansfield's role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in England.
Wilkinson is astonishingly good - as always - though it's Gugu Mbatha-Raw's work as Belle that steals away this movie.
"Mbatha-Raw does genuine, star-making work here, saying more with her bright and searching gaze, in a film full of politely glazed barbarism, than Dido's position at first allows her to put into words," said Robbie Collin of the Telegraph.
"A good-looking and exceedingly polite film where perhaps a more complex one with less good manners would have been better," said Dave Calhoun of Time Out.
"If not a star-making turn, Mbatha-Raw's tough, tender performances should give her plenty of opportunities in sharper fare," said Angie Errigo of Empire magazine.
"Writer-director Amma Asante has created a complex tale of race, gender, and love that has very clear present-day resonance," said Violet Lucca of Film Comment Magazine.
"Mbatha-Raw gives a luminous performance, aided by a script that creates a powerful tension between the formality of the language and the passion of the sentiments," wrote Philip Kemp of Total Film.
In conversation with Collider.com, Wilkinson spoke about preparing for the role.
"I think if the script answers all the questions that it's not necessary to do a lot of research. I'm fairly familiar with the period that the movie is set in and familiar enough with the literature of that period to know what was good to do and what wasn't. The script more of less tells you what to do."
Belle hits cinemas in the UK on Friday (June 13,2014).