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02 April 2014  |  Written by Helen O'Hara  |  Source: Exclusive

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June is going to be a quieter month than usual this year, what with the World Cup competing for cinemagoers' attention. But that absence of superheroes and action blockbusters leaves room for films like Belle, the 18th century story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral.

Belle was raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), but faced prejudice and an uncertain social status. Adding yet another layer of complexity to her situation, her great-uncle was the Lord Chief Justice at a time when many cases involving slavery - and the abolition of same - were coming to the courts.

Matthew Goode plays Belle's father, with Sam Reid as an idealistic vicar's son. The film also stars Penelope Wilton, Miranda Richardson, Tom Felton and Sarah Gadon. Belle hits UK cinemas on June 13, directed by Amma Asante (a BAFTA winner for A Way Of Life).


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