Belle (directed by Amma Asante) is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mabatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral. Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife Lady Mansfield (Emily Watson), Belle’s lineage affords her certain privileges that most cannot receive. The kicker here is that the color of her skin prevents her from fully participating in any of the traditions of her social class. She is shielded from reality to a strong degree, knowing no more than what “Papa” (how she referred to Lord Mansfield) will allow her.

It’s an interesting dynamic because of the tense situation her presence provides. While outsiders gaze in amazement at how she is even allowed in the house, she has a strong bond with her “sister” Elizabeth (Sara Gadon). How strong is the family? Well, their unity is tested once the social events become bigger and Dido starts to become fully aware of her surroundings and the goings-on in England, and at that time, it was whether slavery was legal or even humane.

Dido and Elizabeth get a test of their own when the sight of Dido outside their home at social events catches not only families off-guard, but also the attention of a number of eligible men. Left to wonder if she will ever find love, Belle falls for an idealistic young vicar’s son named John Davinier (Sam Reid), who’s bent on change and sees slavery as a wasteful, inhumane practice.

This movie is simply incredible! I highly recommend this and it tells a wonderful story. I give this a 9 out of 10. If you aren’t doing anything today for the holiday, then an outing to see this would not disappoint!


-Jon J.

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