“In to Africa”.


I managed to miss this film when it was first shown at the end of 2016.  And what a shame as it would have UNDOUBTEDLY made my “Films of the Year” list.  

Directed by Amma Asante (“Belle”) this is the true tale of a real-life fairy story, featuring a handsome prince and his love, who can never be his princess thanks to the Machievellian schemings of court-do-gooders and bureaucrats. 

Ringing the changes: wedding bells for Seretse and Ruth signal trouble ahead.

The prince in this case is Seretse Kham (David Oyelowo, “Selma“) , heir to the throne of Bechuanaland (now Botswana), who meets and falls in love with a lowly white Lloyd’s of London clerk Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl“, “The World’s End“). The plot has many parallels with that of another film from earlier this year:  “Loving” with Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton. As an inter-racial couple in 1947 this is taboo enough, but the fact that Kham is soon to be king in a country bordering the apartheid tinderkeg that is South Africa blows the affair up to be a diplomatic crisis.

Concern in the corridors of power for Prime Minister Atlee (Anton Lesser) being faced up to by the couple’s supporter – a young Anthony Wedgewood Benn (Jack Lowden).

Defying the officials he marries his true love, driving a wedge between both his own uncle (Vusi Kunene ) and sister (Terry Pheto) and making Ruth an outcast in both countries. As things turn from bad to worse, can true love conquer all their adversities?

Just everything about this film delights. Oyelowo and Pike – always a safe pair of hands – add real emotional depth to their roles. Their relationship feels natural and loving without either of them trying too hard. The estrangement of Ruth from her parents (particularly her father played by Nicholas Lyndhurst) is truly touching. 

The glory of an African sunset and a couple that know how to laugh together.

Another star turn is Harry Potter alumni Tom Felton, playing Rufus Lancaster – a weaselly and very unpleasant local official. I have a prediction…. that in 30 year’s time, the young Potter actor that will be the ‘Ian McKellen of his day’ (that is, a world recognized great actor… not necessarily gay!) will be Felton.  

Trying to keep the British end-up as the Empire decays: Sir Alistair Canning (Jack Davenport, “Kingsman: The Secret Service) and Rufus Lancaster (Tom Felton).

Sam McCurdy (“The Descent”) delivers cinematography of Africa that is vibrant (to be fair, for anyone lucky enough to visit Africa will know, cameras just love the place) and the John Barry-esque music by Patrick Doyle (“Murder on the Orient Express“) is pitch perfect for the mood.

When it says “Based on a true story” it means it: the real family.

A beautifully crafted film that older viewers will just love. 

Fad Rating: FFFFF.