"A United Kingdom" Movie Review

Updated on January 3, 2020
popcollin profile image

Collin's been a movie critic since 2009. In real life he works in marketing and is also a novelist ("Good Riddance" published in Oct 2015).

A United Kingdom
A United Kingdom | Source

Just two years after his vivid and powerful portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, David Oyelowo is at it again, turning in a subdued, pitch-perfect performance as a global civil rights leader. In A United Kingdom, Oyelowo tackles the real-life story of Seretse Khama, the king-to-be of the south African country of Bechuanaland (now Botswana).

In 1947, while studying in London before a planned return home to lead his country, he meets Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike), a white woman with no idea of his standing. To say their love and subsequent marriage upset the apple cart is a wild understatement. It was nothing short of a global upheaval that had major ramifications on two continents and eventually led to Botswana’s independence from the British Empire.

As with 2016’s understated Loving, though, A United Kingdom is a story first and foremost about love, and in Pike and Oyelowo’s capable hands, the film soars as a moving tribute to their real-life counterparts and what they endured to keep that love strong.

Director Amma Asante (Belle) never loses sight of that fact either, deftly balancing the political fallout with the personal toll. In the wake of Khama and Williams’ marriage, her father disowned her, but for him, it was a matter of his entire country hanging in the balance. England was, at the time, knee-deep in the turmoil in South Africa, which was in the process of introducing Apartheid. National identities, civil rights, and sovereignty hung in the balance.

Even after being exiled by the British government for five years, Khama never wavered in either his devotion to his country or to his wife. Oyelowo is given plenty of moments to show us that devotion, as he delivers passionate, inspired speeches that helped sway his own country and then, later, the government of England. But A United Kingdom’s better moments come when the two leads are alone with each other during the film’s quieter times, falling in love and displaying their unwavering commitment.

Pike and Oyelowo share a genuine chemistry, and with the help of a solid screenplay from Guy Hibbert (Eye in the Sky), who adapted the book by Susan WIlliams, they propel the film forward and make it very easy for the audience to quickly get immersed in the story. The supporting cast is also excellent, including Jack Davenport as Alistair Canning, the (fictional) conniving British government representative in Africa; Tom Felton, almost unrecognizable from his days as Harry Potter nemesis Draco Malfoy, playing Bechuanaland’s district commissioner, and Terry Pheto as Khama’s younger sister, who slowly warms to Ruth’s presence. Oyelowo’s real-life wife Jessica also does notable work as Canning’s wife Lily.

Ultimately, this is a powerful and uplifting story that few people have ever heard but one that definitely deserves its place in history. And A United Kingdom more than does it justice.


4.5/5 stars

'A United Kingdom' trailer


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)