Wednesday, 30 November 2016

REVIEW - A UNITED KINGDOM (AMMA ASANTE)


A stultifying loveliness lingers over Amma Asante's A United Kingdom, one of those inspiring historical true stories whose hagiographic tendencies bring out the laziest in their directors. A shame that Guy Hibbert's dialogue is so mundane, since both he and Asante demonstrate an impressive awareness of the essential interchange between the personal and the political amongst those who cannot evade it. It's a trait that simmers through A United Kingdom, though precisely when one anticipates it boiling over, Asante's penchant for stylistic prosaicism keeps the film's potential passions in check. It's less that she wishes to maintain a sense of balanced, non-judgemental objectivity, more that she genuinely seems to trust in the techniques of the most modest of filmmakers, those whose workmanlike, adaptable styles have made them ever safe fits for similar middlebrow period pieces and TV movies. Even the film's necessary dips into darkness are shrouded by gentility and brushed off in the pursuit of hope. A United Kingdom is thus an obstinately lovely film, but there are less attractive attributes to which to aspire than loveliness. It makes for a pleasant accompaniment throughout, whether in the vibrant, committed performances or in the smart period recreation and overall aesthetic scheme. As such, there are far worse films to which you could bring your granny to than A United Kingdom, but sometimes, don't you just wish you could leave granny at home?