Belle is a 2013 drama film directed by Amma Asante written by Misan Sagay and produced by Damian Jones. It stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw Sam Reid Tom Wilkinson Miranda Richardson Penelope Wilton Sarah Gadon Emily Watson and James Norton.
The film is based on the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (1761-1804) the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of Admiral John Lindsay and Maria Belle an enslaved African woman who was brought to England from the West Indies. Dido was raised by her aunt Lady Mansfield and her cousin Elizabeth Murray in Kenwood House in London.
Dido Belle was born into slavery but she was given a life of privilege and educated in a wealthy household. Her story challenges the entrenched ideas of race and class in eighteenth-century Britain.
Belle received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has a 64% approval rating based on 103 reviews with an average rating of 6.2/10. The site’s consensus states: “Achingly beautiful and thought-provoking Belle uses one woman’s story to offer a window into an often-ignored aspect of history.”
On Metacritic the film has a score of 60 out of 100 based on 33 critics indicating “mixed or average reviews”.
Many reviewers praised the film’s visual style and Mbatha-Raw’s performance but the film was criticized for its slow pace and lack of depth.
In The Guardian Peter Bradshaw gave the film 3 out of 5 stars writing that it was “a handsome and involving film told with a light touch which raises vital questions without being didactic.”
In The Daily Telegraph Robbie Collin gave the film 4 out of 5 stars calling it “a sumptuously mounted period drama” with “a handful of terrific central performances.”
In The Independent Anthony Quinn gave the film 3 out of 5 stars writing that it was “a intriguing good-looking film” but “sadly lacks the fire in its belly.”
In The Hollywood Reporter Todd McCarthy called the film “an elegant intelligent old-fashioned film” but “a little too staid and proper for its own good.”
In Variety Justin Chang wrote that the film was “a handsome well-acted period drama” but “ultimately a little too tasteful and decorous for its own good.”
Overall Belle is a visually stunning film with a complex and fascinating heroine at its center. Despite some pacing issues the film is definitely worth watching.
What is the rating for Belle?
What are the ratings for families with small children?
PG G or R
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