Belle (2013 99mins.) [Film4 11.15pm &+1]
The illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy admiral is raised in the household of her great uncle, but is never entirely accepted in Georgian British society. She falls in love with an idealistic lawyer, and together they campaign against the slave trade. Fact-based period drama, starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson.
Amma Asante's fact-based film is a warm-hearted, witty, glamorous treat : even for those people who would normally run a mile rather than settle down in front of a frocks'n'bonnets historical love story.
While the issues around slavery, class, domestic servitude and the inequities of a closed Victorian society are addressed the over-riding theme is the way in which love wil find a way to survive and triumph even when faced with the obstacles of closed minds and hearts.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw is sensational in the lead role; ably supported by Wilkinson, Watson and Sam Reid's unfussy and controlled work - Asante's direction is assured and the period settings are neatly realised.
A perfectly done gem of a film.