[Review] The search for acceptance

[Review] The search for acceptance

Films that explore race are popular at the moment, with this year's Best Picture award at the Oscars going to 12 Years a Slave.

Now comes the less harrowing but equally fascinating Belle, which is also based on a true story. It follows a mixed-raced woman in 18th-century Britain who escapes slavery because her great-uncle is a senior judge.

Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw, left) discovers that her seemingly idyllic childhood spent with her white cousin, Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon, right), will not last forever.

Although her father is white, her mother was a Caribbean slave, which means she will never be fully accepted by polite society. She's not allowed to dine with the family, and she's unlikely to find a proper gentleman to marry.

But at the same time, she can't eat with the servants or get involved with someone of a lower class, as that would bring shame to her family.

But then she attracts the eye of two men: Oliver Ashford (James Norton) and John Davinier (Sam Reid), who has the unfortunate luck to have been born the son of a lowly minister.

Meanwhile Belle's family is involved in an important legal case that could lead to the end of slavery. The operators of a slave ship have thrown slaves overboard, and the family must rule if this is illegal.

Writer Misan Sagay and director Amma Asante have created a beautifully detailed film. Even though it is set 250 years ago, the issues it explores are timeless.

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This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
The search for acceptance


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