Belle
PG
Entertainment: +4
Acceptability: +3

Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson, Emily Watson, Sarah Gadon, Penelope Wilton, Miranda Richardson, Tom Felton and Matthew Goode. Written by Misan Sagay. Directed by Amma Asante.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Belle is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mabatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy admiral.  Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle’s lineage affords her certain privileges, yet the color of her skin prevents her from fully participating in the traditions of her social standing.  Left to wonder if she will ever find love, Belle falls for an idealistic young vicar’s son bent on change who, with her help, shapes Lord Mansfield’s role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in England.

PREVIEW REVIEW: A film of depth and strong performances (especially from Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Tom Wilkinson), Belle not only examines the one time abuse of blacks by whites, but goes further, exposing the different kinds of slavery and the prejudices that abound in our world.

In Merry Old England, for example, in the 1700s, women, while being revered for their beauty, were mere ornaments, unable to take a place in the work force due to their standing – life was either beneath them or above them. They were at the mercy of suitable inheritances or marriage to suitable suitors. Realizing her position, a highbred white woman says, “We are their property.”

And men didn’t have it much better. Your parents’ position placed you in a category that sealed your station in life. If you weren’t a gentleman of breeding and bounty, you were looked down upon.

The film documents how good men, having examined the evil of slavery, put their reputations on the line in order to stand against such wrongdoings. Topnotch cinematography, production design and writing of substance help make this endeavor a most engaging night at the movies. And it would be admirable if the Academy could remember Tom Wilkinson’s performance come Oscar time.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Fox Searchlight

Summary
Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: None
Profanity: None
Violence: Though we don’t see it, we are told of brutality shown to slaves aboard a sea vessel.
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: None
Other: None
Running Time: 105 minutes
Intended Audience: Mature viewers

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