Belle (2013)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Belle (2013)

Love and the Law

As the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Captain, Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) finds herself seeing very different lives. On one hand being raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson) affords her various privileges and an education. But at the same time she finds herself often ostracized due to the colour of her skin with various possible suitors forbidden by their family to become involved with her. But Belle finds herself falling for John Davinier (Sam Reid) the son of a vicar who wants change when it comes to slavery and is pushing Belle's father, as Lord Chief Justice, to bring an end to slavery in England.

I have said before that I am not a huge fan of the historical costume dramas which end up being about the aristocracy, I find them far too stiff and too focused on recreating the era than delivering a story. It is for that reason I have had "Belle" sitting there to be watched for a few months as I had never been in the right frame of mind to tackle the movie. And I cannot lie as I did often find it arduous because of it at times coming across too stiff.

But there is no denying that "Belle" is a fascinating look at the issues to do with slavery and colour in a period where slavery in England was permitted. You do get to see the attitudes of those towards Belle due to the colour of her skin whilst there are those who are only interested in her because of perceived inheritance. And of course we have the idealistic John Davinier who is looking to bring an end to slavery and is clearly interested in Belle. In many ways "Belle" is frustrating for someone like me as the storyline is good but at times seems to get too caught up in the period look.

What this all boils down to is that whilst "Belle" is a good movie it is for me one of those movies which will be appreciated more by those who enjoy historical costume dramas.