‘A United Kingdom’ Tackles Race, Politics, And Love

Photo via Fox Searchlight Pictures

The film premieres on February 17

Director Amma Asante hit it big in 2013 with Belle, her period drama about a mixed-race woman fighting for her place among the aristocracy in 18th-century England. Her follow-up, A United Kingdom, is another gorgeously mounted story that succeeds at being both educational and urgent. Asante opens the film with office worker Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike) and dashing flirt Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo) meeting cute at a missionary dance in London circa the late 1940s. As played by Pike and Oyelowo, the pair’s chemistry crackles, a match of both intellect and good looks.

Of course, their union doesn’t jibe with Williams’s upper-crusty parents, despite the fact that their daughter’s suitor is in fact a prince of Bechuanaland (then a British protectorate, now the republic of Botswana). They only see color (her father goes so far as to disown her), as do the people of his colony, who are horrified when he returns to his homeland, freshly married with his blonde bride in tow.

More dangerous than his citizens, however, are the colonial authorities, led by Alistair Canning (a smarmy Jack Davenport), who’ll stop at seemingly nothing to break up the happy couple in a bid to not offend apartheid South Africa, which shares a border.

Ruth and Seretse’s plight is undeniably harrowing: For a long stretch of the film, they’re forced apart, with Seretse exiled off to London, while Ruth is forced to remain in Africa. 

Even as A United Kingdom veers into geopolitical territory, with Seretse going up against Labour prime minister Clement Attlee, who’s stridently loyal to South Africa, Asante wisely keeps the emotional stakes as her main point of focus. She’s a deft juggler of multiple threads—but no matter how vast the narrative, her characters come first.

As Ruth, Pike delivers a performance in sharp contrast to her cold and calculated Oscar-nominated work in Gone Girl. A United Kingdom proves she can play warm and resilient just as expertly. Oyelowo matches her in their tender scenes together, and is bracingly forceful when the story calls for it, in a way that recalls his towering performance as Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma. Together they root Ruth and Seretse’s battle in wholly sincere terms that strike a universal chord. 

Photo by Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images.

It marks her third duet with Nas

Here are some words that I never expected to read or hear again: There is a new song with Amy Winehouse. But here we are in 2019, and Salaam Remi has granted me a wish. On Valentine's Day, the Grammy-nominated producer and frequent Winehouse collaborator (also responsible for hits like Miguel's "Come Through & Chill") released "Find My Love" which features rapper Nas and that powerful and haunting voice that I have come to love and cherish so dearly.

Representatives for Remi said that the Winehouse vocals were from an old jam session the two had. Remi was a producer on both of Winehouse's albums, Frank and Back to Black. "Find My Love" marks the third time Winehouse and Nas have done duets under the direction of Remi. They were previously heard together on "Like Smoke," a single from her 2011 posthumous album Amy Winehouse Lioness: Hidden Treasures, and "Cherry Wine" from Nas' 2012 album Life Is Good. Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011, before they could complete production on her third album. My heart is still broken about it as she is by far my favorite artist.

"Find My Love" is set to appear on Remi's Do It for the Culture 2, a collection of songs curated by him. Check it out, below.



Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

"In the midst of chaos there's opportunity"

Following the travesty that was Fyre Festival, Ja Rule wants to take another stab at creating a music festival. Good luck getting that off the ground.

On Thursday, the rapper spoke to TMZ, where he revealed that he was planning to relaunch Icon, an app used to book entertainers, which is similar to Billy McFarland's Fyre app. He told the outlet that he wanted to create a festival similar to Fyre to support it.

"[Fyre Festival] is heartbreaking to me. It was something that I really, really wanted to be special and amazing, and it just didn't turn out that way, but in the midst of chaos there's opportunity, so I'm working on a lot of new things," he says. He then gets into the fact that he wants to form a music festival. "[Fyre] is the most iconic festival that never was... I have plans to create the iconic music festival, but you didn't hear it from me."

Ja Rule actually doesn't seem to think he is at all responsible for what came from Fyre Fest, claiming in a Twitter post that he was "hustled, scammed, bamboozled, hood winked, led astray." Even if that's his feeling, he should realize that anyone involved with Fyre shouldn't ever try their hand at music festivals again.