Freeview film of the day: Belle

Race, gender and freedom come under scrutiny in Amma Asante’s elegant history lesson

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Belle ★★★★ 
9.00-11.05pm Film4 Premiere

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A politically charged costume drama that established former child actor Amma Asante as a vital British director, Belle has been fictionally expanded by writer Misan Sagay from the sketchy tale of a real-life mixed-race daughter of a white naval officer and a West Indian slave, sent to live with his aristocratic family in Hampstead in 1765. Subtly played as a young adult by newcomer Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Belle is brought up alongside her white cousin (played by David Cronenberg favourite Sarah Gadon) but denied an introduction into society like other eligible young ladies. Intertwining with abolitionism via Sam Reid’s liberal lawyer, it’s a tale that resonates with our own racially uncertain times. Superb.


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