Monday, July 28, 2014
Amma Asante's Belle thankfully breaks free of that barrier by focusing on the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate daughter of a Royal Navy officer. Granted, the film doesn't focus on her whole story but rather one particular time in her life: as a young woman.
It's noticeable throughout Belle takes after a Jane Austen novel, right down to the prospects of a suitable husband. Though in other scenes, the film gets more politically involved than any of Austen's novels. It gets a little disorganized when the two mix, but it's still interesting to watch.
Another key detail throughout Belle are the interactions between the characters, which coincidentally is another trait found within Austen's novels. It could something as simple as a parting glance or holding hands but it can leave an impact. (What can I say? I admire small details like that.)
Belle is very, very good most of the time. It's when politics get mentioned that the film becomes a bit muddled. Thanks to the performances from Mbatha-Raw and Tom Wilkinson (as well as Matthew Goode's brief but heartbreaking role), Asante's film provides a much bolder portrait than anything Jane Austen's ever written.
My Rating: ****1/2