There is s till time for you to see Belle in a movie theater. This quietly appreciated film is still holding at several screens across the country. Since its release several weeks ago it has either been in the top ten grossing movies or hovering about it. Still, figures show, there are many, many of you who have not taken the opportunity to see it - and you should.
If you liked Pride and Prejudice you will like Belle. If you liked Twelve Years A Slave you will like Belle. If you like Downton Abbey you will like Belle. If you just like good movies then you are bound to like Belle. This movie is a perfect mix of a good story, an amazing cast, and a spectacular sense of time and place.
At the heart of the film is the performance of Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Dido Belle. She inhabits this role like a second skin; bringing beauty, wisdom and sensitivity to the part. She is the "star" of the show but she is surrounded by a host of supporting actors who all do their best to present her at her best. Among those lending support are Tom Wilkinson, Emily Watson, Penelope Wilton, Sarah Gadon, Natasha Richardson, Tom Felton and many more.
Based on true events, the movie tells the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle and it is an amazing one. She is the daughter of a white British naval officer and a slave. When her mother dies her father (Matthew Goode) seeks her out. He arranges for her to live with his uncle and aunt (Wilkinson and Watson) while he is at sea. Her relatives are also rearing another niece, Sarah (Gadon).
Dido is raised as someone of class and distinction thought there are limits that are imposed because of her race. Her uncle is a prestigious judge and so her presence is accepted much more easily than it otherwise would have.
Dido slips easily into her role as the judge's niece and enjoys most of what life offers her. But as she gets older she begins to see the horrors of slavery and the oppression of women in general. She makes the acquaintance of a man named John (Sam Reid) who is a progressive thinker. He is not of her class level as he is the son of a preacher, a person generally dismissed from high society echelons.
Watching Dido's life evolve is fascinating, and when you throw in a tumultuous romance it is a must see. From the first second of the film till its last, this is a movie that will transport you to the mid 1700's and hold you in awe of its look and its message.
The movie is rated PG for adult situations.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw is a star on the rise. This movie should put her name and her face on the Hollywood map. It completely showcases her talent and she rises to every challenge the film offers.
If you have not yet seen Belle don't delay another day. It is one of the best movies of the year and you don't want to let it slip by unseen.
I scored Belle a ringing 9 out of 10.
Jackie K Cooper