Belle (2014 dir. Amma Asante)

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Anyone who classes themselves as a true friend will know of my interest in the stories and experiences of the African-Caribbean diaspora and my penchant for period dramas, thus it will be of no surprise that I went out of my way to see this film.

Inspired by a painting of  Lady Elizabeth Dido Lindsay, Britain’s first black aristocrat, Belle explores the social conventions and hypocrisies of 18th century England. 

The film was written by black British writer Misan Sagay and directed by Amma Asante and boasts a sterling cast of accomplished actors such as Tom Wilkinson and Miranda Richardson as well as relative newcomers Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Sam Reid; all of whom contribute to making this film a real gem.

The film, I hope, symbolises a move amongst those in the British media to portray the lives of black Britons before 1948, although the British film industry need to pull their socks up and tell us the stories of The Empire Windrush generation too.

Belle is an excellent British film and one that I would expect to become a classic. As well as an alluring love story it addresses race, gender and class inequality in the 1700s.

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The painting, by an anonymous artist, that inspired the screenplay, now hung at Scone Palace in Perth, Scotland, the family seat.

 

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The Fault in Our Stars (2014 dir. Josh Boone)

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For a film depicting teenage love this film is a pleasant surprise and although the main characters are supposed to be in their teens this story has so much substance that it is suitable for those of any age.

Hazel, played by Shailene Woodley of The Descendents and Divergent, is a young lung cancer patient who meets 18 year old amputee Augustus, Ansel Elgort, at a group therapy session. She is struck by his honesty and fearlessness as he is with her beauty and wit and after the session they leave together. Their friendship grows into a mutual unconditional love that few adults experience and although advised against it they journey to Amsterdam to visit Hazel’s favourite author.

Many people will cry during this film, it has memorable and inspirational dialogue, which I am sure will be quoted by fans again and again, and some beautiful exchanges between the pair; having you laughing out loud one minute and weeping hopelessly into your hands the next.

An idealistic yet beautiful story about how love ought to be.