Rating: 3 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)
Review: The time is 1781, and in England serious opposition to slavery is fermenting. A highly controversial legal case has made it’s way to the jurisdiction of the Lord Chief Justice of England, Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson), and he must decide if the slave ship Zong was in it’s rights to intentionally drown 142 slaves when it ran low on drinking water, and if so, if the insurers of the vessel must compensate for the loss.
Complicating matters is Dido Belle, a young woman born illegitimately from the union of a slave and British Admiral Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode). On the death of Sir Lindsay, Dido becomes the ward of her great uncle, Lord Mansfield. Dido is treated as a member of the family at the Mansfield estate, but she gradually comes to realize how different she is from other young English women. Dido’s mixed bloodlines makes her position in society tenuous, but in England, class and wealth are frequently competing factors as to who may be a desirable catch as a wife. As it happens, Dido’s naval father left her quite well off financially.
This movie will be a fascinating slice of history for movie goers who are interested in authentic looks at 18th century society. The pace may feel slow for some, but the acting is first rate. Tom Wilkenson delivers another powerful performance as the Lord Chief Justice at a critical time in English jurisprudence.
Actress to Watch: Go gaga for Gugu! She is a wonderful actress, and should be getting bigger roles in mainstream movies. If you missed her short TV run in Undercovers, get the DVD for the Tom Hanks movie Larry Crowne, as Gugu stole every scene she was in.
Dialogue Nuggets: “You should not be speaking your own mind; you’ll end up an old maid!”
At the end of a verdict: ” Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.”