The release of Belle on Mother’s Day weekend in Dallas is perfect, it is the ideal movie for the family. Mom and daughters will enjoy the rich beauty of the film, the search for love of the young girls; meanwhile even the fellas will admit the legal drama is intriguing.
There are so many things to love about this movie, but three things stand out: slavery in Britain, the effective story telling and discovering a rising star in Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
Belle is an inspired true story about the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Mbatha-Raw) she is the mulato daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode). The two meet only once, when delivers her to his great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson). The couple is not happy about it, but feel compelled to follow the rules which indicate that if her white father opening claims her, the little orphaned girl (her mother is dead) is entitled to certain privileges, even an inheritance.
At this point, just when you fear of the danger of the story being very glamorized and whitewashing the problems of slavery the skill of the writing shines through. Yes, the family treats her as their very daughter, yet she suffers the humiliation of never being allowed to eat dinner with guests.
Then as she gets older and her inheritance buffets her from an uncertain future, Belle becomes more and more aware of her unique situation. Belle begins to openly wonder about the slaves in the community and the blacks hired in her family’s London household. Eventually she begins to openly challenging her uncle, Lord Mansfield. He is in an a unique position as the Lord Chief Justice – apparently he was the Supreme Court of Britain – and is pressured from all sides on how he will rule on a case involving the death of slaves.
This is a movie that audiences will find delightful, even as they learn something. Also, there is no doubt it is only the beginning of a promising career for Gugu Mbatha-Raw. It opens today at the Magnolia in Dallas, and the Angelika in Plano.