Review: Romance as history lesson in ‘A United Kingdom’

David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike can’t ignite this love story, based on a true story

Adam Graham, The Detroit News

Noble but stuffy, “A United Kingdom’s” good intentions suffer from its dull, predictable beats.

David Oyelowo stars as Seretse Khama, the prince of the African country of Bechuanaland, who meets and falls in love with office worker Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike) while visiting London in the late 1940s.

Their interracial affair stirs up controversy — not only for both of their families but for their respective governments. Sometimes love can feel like the world is trying to tear the two of you apart; in this instance, that really was the case.

“A United Kingdom” is similar to last year’s “Loving,” which told the story of Mildred and Richard Loving, an interracial couple in Virginia in the 1960s whose case made it to the U.S. Supreme Court. That film had a quiet and gentle soul, but “A United Kingdom” feels more formulaic, its soft edits lending it the feel of a historical biopic rather than a love story.

It’s difficult to fault the performances of Oyelowo and Pike, who have an easy chemistry together, but director Amma Asante (“Belle”) doesn’t create any sparks between them. They’re symbols, human metaphors for change and progress, and it’s hard work selling a romance between two metaphors.

“A United Kingdom” isn’t up to the task. It’s a cinematic plate of vegetables, ostensibly good for you but no fun to consume. Somebody pass the sugar.

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‘A United Kingdom’


Rated PG-13: for some language including racial epithets and a scene of sensuality

Running time: 111 minutes