Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Belle

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for thematic elements, some language and brief smoking images
Profanity:Some brief language
Nudity/Sex:Mild references, question of illegitimacy
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking, smoking
Violence/Scariness:Sad death of parent (offscreen), tense family confrontations
Diversity Issues:Race and gender issues the theme of the film
Movie Release Date:May 9, 2014

belle-posterWriter Misan Sagay, director Amma Asante, and actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw have created a film of exceptional understanding, honoring the life of the real-life woman who inspired the story with intelligence, sensitivity, and insight that illuminate her time and our own.  Mbatha-Raw plays the title character, who must navigate her way across lines of gender, class, race, and legitimacy — in its legal and broader senses.  Mbatha-Raw (“Larry Crowne”) is mesmerizing, a beautiful, thoughtful performance in a film that has all of the trappings of the best sumptuous costume dramas but has a story with unexpected contemporary meaning.

Dido Elizabeth Belle was the illegitimate daughter of a titled officer in the British navy and a West Indian slave woman.  When her mother died, he brought his daughter to live with his uncle, Lord Mansfield, the chief judge of England (Tom Wilkinson), his wife (Emily Watson), and their other niece, Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon).  The girls are raised like sisters but there are always distinctions.  They eat together as a family if they are alone, but if there are guests, Dido is not permitted to eat with them but can join them in the parlor afterward.  After her father’s death, Dido is an heiress with a respectable fortune while Elizabeth, a legitimate heiress, is cut off from her inheritance by her father’s second wife.  As Dido and Elizabeth are introduced to society (Elizabeth formally, Dido does not “come out”), the eligible young men rate the women as shrewdly as Jane Austen characters.  Does an impoverished young man of good breeding in need of money find Dido’s fortune sufficient to overcome her race and unmarried parents?  If he does, will Dido have a choice in evaluating his proposal?

Meanwhile, a case is wending its way toward the judge that is of vital interest to Dido.  Slaves being transported were jettisoned from a cargo ship.  Are they to be seen as property or as people?  Dido gets more information about the case from a fiery but poor young law student, risking his opportunity to study with the judge by communicating with her.  As she learns more about her mother’s people and understands more about the kinds of restrictions she and Elizabeth face — some alike, some different, she begins to understand that some of those restrictions are freeing as well.  If she cannot travel the usual path for young women in her society, she can learn to forge her own.

Parents should know that this movie includes discussions of legitimacy, mixed-race relationships, and slavery.  There are references to the slaughter and mistreatment of slaves.

Family discussion:  How many different distinctions did the family and the culture make between Elizabeth and Dido?  Between the two women and the men around them?

If you like this, read more about the real story in Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice and watch “Amazing Grace” and “Amistad.”



Previous Posts

James Franco's New Movie Mash-Up Series
James Franco has a new series on AOL Originals. He'll be re-enacting classic movie scenes combined with other classic movie scenes. [iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/cNkFIwas0rk?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 3:59:52pm Sep. 14, 2014 | read full post »

Trailer: Paper Planes
Coming in 2015, "Paper Planes" stars Sam Worthington ("Avatar"). [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h00GHmlFjCs[/youtube]

posted 8:00:37am Sep. 14, 2014 | read full post »

Janelle Monae Tells Sesame Street About the Power of Yet: Just Keep Trying
I told you this was going to be great! Janelle Monae sings about "The Power of Yet" to remind us that if we can't do something, we just have to keep trying. [iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/XLeUvZvuvAs?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 8:00:52am Sep. 13, 2014 | read full post »

All the Gilmore Girls Episodes Will Be Streaming on Netflix!
I am delighted that all of the 153 episodes of "Gilmore Girls" will be available on Netflix, starting in October.  This show had some of the most delightfully quirky characters and some of the most witty dialog in television history.  Melissa McCarthy plays the chef and business partner and best

posted 8:00:41am Sep. 13, 2014 | read full post »

Exclusive Featurette: Last Weekend
Patricia Clarkson plays a sometimes-outrageous and insensitive mother of adult children in "Last Weekend," written and co-directed by Tom Dolby.  I'm delighted to be able to share an exclusive behind-the-scenes glimpse. [iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/aqKIrtNo9ZY?re

posted 3:58:26pm Sep. 12, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.