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Belle

✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

United Kingdom
·
2013

Rated PG · 1h 45m

Director Amma Asante
Starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson, Sam Reid, Emily Watson

Genre Drama, History

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Inspired by the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral who was raised in England by her aristocratic great-uncle. "Belle" is an elegant, unique period piece about a woman in a unique position; privileged due to her family's status yet simultaneously held back by British society's treatment of her skin color.

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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

83

Entertainment Weekly by Chris Nashawaty

Like "Downton Abbey" but with corsets, culottes, and tricorn hats, Belle subtly skewers the absurd rules and hypocrisies of class. But the real takeaway is Mbatha-Raw. She makes a case for why she ought to be a star.
40

Time Out by Joshua Rothkopf

Closer to a special episode of "Diff’rent Strokes" than to "12 Years a Slave," the movie seems to exist to give its white characters belated moments of conscience.
70

Variety by Justin Chang

That the film still works as well as it does is due to not only its polished craftsmanship and disarming comedy-of-manners approach, but also its fascinating insights into the conflicted mindset of British society
50

New York Post by Lou Lumenick

If you were wondering what “12 Years a Slave” might have been like as a two-part episode of “Masterpiece Theatre,” you might want to check out this unsatisfying but not uninteresting oddity. It renders another historical story about race with exquisite taste but not much in the way of passion.
60

The Dissolve by Nathan Rabin

As a period production, Belle is gorgeous, dazzling spectacle, replete with ornate costumes, lovely sets, and in Mbatha-Raw, a striking, charismatic lead. But the film never finds a way to invest its narrative with a sense of urgency.
75

Observer by Rex Reed

Elegant and understated, Belle is a true story about the effects of slavery on 18th-century England, told in the style of a sweeping romantic saga by Jane Austen or the Brontë sisters.
50

Slant Magazine by Tomas Hachard

The film is concerned largely with intellectual horrors and portrays the fight against slavery rather neatly as a growing feeling of internal guilt that slowly turns society toward the light.

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