The first film I’ll endorse is a recent addition. I owe this gem to another movie on my list, Only Lovers Left Alive. If I hadn’t traveled to another state to watch Jim Jarmusch’s independent masterpiece, I would not have seen the fantastic cinema display showcasing the dresses in Belle. The incredible costumes caught my eye, but the star piqued my interest.
I’ve always been a sucker for Victorian, Edwardian, and in this case Georgian era fashions. Seeing a black woman in the fine gowns worn by the ladies of that generation inspired me to watch the film without the aid of a single trailer.
The risk paid off as this film feels like one of those movies made just for me. I will not vouch for historical accuracy. In fact, it is my understanding that liberties were most certainly taken. What I can claim is that this film spoke to me. I adore the works of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, and Edgar Allan Poe, but let’s face it—the main characters look nothing like me. It’s a stretch to insert myself into the stories, as the dynamic would change tremendously. Belle not only addresses the social issues present for a biracial woman in that society, but also the difference between overlooking race and disregarding it as a factor, accepting someone completely.
Although fiercely romantic, Belle is so much more than a love story. The poignant parallel of the Zong legal case advances the narrative of Dido’s life quite effectively. Incredibly well acted, with almost zero wasted dialogue, the film introduced me to two impressive beauties and a use of the term sister/cousin that does not result in an Alabama joke. The relationships felt real, particularly between the two young women.
If I had to voice a complaint, it would be the size of Matthew Goode’s role, although it suits the story. His short, but powerful performance, left me wanting more, though none of the cast disappointed.
This interesting tale, set on breathtaking English landscapes, is well worth your time and attention. As a Hidden Gem, it comes high on my list of recommendations. Much like the argument against slavery, this movie is for more than just a black audience. Everyone I’ve shared it with enjoyed this beautifully acted film, men and women alike, and only one of those people was even partially black. Check your preferred movie source for availability.
If you’ve seen Belle and you think I’ve left out a crucial endorser, or that I’m mistaken, let me know in the comments.