A United Kingdom, starring David Oyewolo and Rosamund Pike, examines one of the first publicized interracial relationships of the modern era. In a world currently fraught with racial issues regarding immigration and law enforcement, the movie is a timely piece of cinema. The film highlights the love of a black man and a white woman in the 1940s. A former king of Botswana, Seretse Khama tried to bring Ruth Williams to his homeland to serve as his queen. However, the people of his country were not eager to accept this fancy and elegant foreigner. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they viewed her as an interloper. In return, Ruth’s father wasn’t eager to accept the union either. Of course, the icy stares are only the start of problems for the unconventional couple. Due to British immigration laws, Khama is unable to return to Britain, and Ruth is forced to spend her pregnancy without her husband, ultimately delivering their child alone in a rural hospital.
The movie does a delightful job touching upon the courtship of these two individuals. Khama is in the United Kingdom studying law, and Ruth is an intelligence clerk. After meeting at a dance in 1947, the two delight in learning more about each other. Given an extended period of time, it’s possible this relationship may have eventually fizzled, as people fall in and out of love in college all of the time. However, Khama is unexpectedly called home early by his uncle. The uncle believes Khama has completed enough studying abroad and wants Khama to return to serve his people. This quick change of life plans galvanizes the relationship, and Khama decides to bring Ruth home, an action that cements their romance forever in history.
Unfortunately, it is at this point where the movie begins a small campaign of disservice to the young couple. To begin with, Khama and Ruth are never shown displaying that type of fierce and passionate love that would cause two people to remain together under such stressful circumstances. Secondly, the film fails to present any meaningful reason why British bureaucrats were so interested in keeping the couple apart. Racism is despicable, but it is usually fed by underwater springs of power, control, and ambition. A United Kingdom would have been better served if it more fully explored the motives of its villains. Notwithstanding these criticisms, the film will not disappoint those interested in both history and race relations.