Though one might be tempted to roll their eyes at yet another Hollywood period piece romanticization of a real-life story of a couple on opposite ends of a racial divide, perhaps we should start building up our tolerance for films like A United Kingdom once again. After all, in a world where white nationalists are advising the president and even the casting of multi-ethnic actors in Star Wars movie is grounds for a boycott, every little bit of pushback has its value. Even when it’s got the sweeping cinematography and lush melodramatics of your average Merchant Ivory knock-off.

Directed by Amma Asante (Belle) from a script by Guy Hibbert (Eye In The Sky), David Oyelowo stars as Sir Seretse Khama, prince of Bechuanaland. As fate would have it, the future first president of Botswana falls into a star-crossed romance with a London office worker with the very British name of Ruth Williams and the face of Rosamund Pike. Their ensuing marriage becomes itself an international incident, which is further complicated by an independent movie in Khama’s African homeland. With the talent involved here, A United Kingdom has the potential to transcend its mawkish trailer, and with the subject matter, there’s even more potential to piss off online racists.

Advertisement

A United Kingdom hits select theaters on February 17.