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Drama . Romance

BELLE is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral. Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield and his wife, Belle's lineage affords her certain privileges, yet the color of her skin prevents her from fully participating in the traditions of her social standing. Left to wonder if she will ever find love, Belle falls for an idealistic young vicar's son bent on change who, with her help, shapes Lord Mansfield's role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in England

Actors: Natasha Williams , Lauren Julien-Box , James Norton , Sam Reid , Sarah Gadon , Emily Watson , Penelope Wilton , Miranda Richardson , Tom Wilkinson , Alan McKenna , Gugu Mbatha-Raw , Matthew Goode , Tom Felton
Directors: Amma Asante
Country: UK
Release: 2014-06-13
More Info:
  • Roger Moore

    Beautifully cast, touchingly played and handsomely mounted, Belle is as close to perfect as any costumed romance has a right to be.

    McClatchy-Tribune News Service Full Review
  • Kimber Myers

    Amma Asante’s Belle has every element that costume drama fans love, but it elevates a standard love story by adding larger historical implications and giving us a new perspective on the era.

    The Playlist Full Review
  • Chris Nashawaty

    Like "Downton Abbey" but with corsets, culottes, and tricorn hats, Belle subtly skewers the absurd rules and hypocrisies of class. But the real takeaway is Mbatha-Raw. She makes a case for why she ought to be a star.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • David Denby

    The movie is a moralized historical fantasy, mixing love and politics in Old Hollywood style. Yet I can’t bring myself to be indignant about its inventions. Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who was born in Oxford and has acted since she was a child, speaks her lines with tremulous emotion and, finally, radiant authority. Austen, I think, would have been thrilled.

    The New Yorker Full Review
  • Bill Goodykoontz

    Belle is a beautiful period piece, but it's also something more: a study of racism, classism and sexism in 18th-century England.

    Arizona Republic Full Review
  • Bilge Ebiri

    Belle does have a clear moral compass, but it refuses easy answers and withholds easy judgments. As such, it feels profoundly human.

    New York Magazine (Vulture) Full Review
  • Inkoo Kang

    Belle's extraordinary intelligence is most evident in its slow but satisfying disentanglement of the jumble of privileges and disadvantages that the wealthy, aristocratic, and learned — but also female, half-black, and pitifully sheltered — Dido embodies.

    TheWrap Full Review
  • Graham Fuller

    The serious tone of director Amma Asante’s film goes far in undercutting any gloss. It looks more like a murky Rembrandt than an episode of “Downton Abbey.”

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • Joe Williams

    With stately surroundings and hissable villains, director Amma Assante imbues the finale with such dramatic resonance that Belle becomes a ringing proclamation of human dignity.

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch Full Review
  • Steven Rea

    Belle, with its country manors and its city slums, its snooty nobles and its fiery idealists, its ballroom dances and barroom conspiracies, brings these themes to a dramatic head: romance and race, privilege and justice.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Mick LaSalle

    Belle isn't a perfect movie; in some ways it's obvious. But even if it's not true to history, it's true to that painting and worthy of its inspiration.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Stephanie Merry

    The movie packs a lot in, and the quick pace of early scenes can feel like running on a treadmill, but Belle settles into a nice rhythm. It ends up having all the requisites of a period drama — a strings-heavy soundtrack, lavish costumes and passionate declarations of love — plus a good deal more.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Claudia Puig

    The layered film's blend of Austen-style romance, courtroom drama and historical look at the British slave trade works surprisingly well, though there are moments — especially involving the conniving suitors — that teeter on melodrama.

    USA Today Full Review
  • Rex Reed

    Elegant and understated, Belle is a true story about the effects of slavery on 18th-century England, told in the style of a sweeping romantic saga by Jane Austen or the Brontë sisters.

    New York Observer Full Review
  • Manohla Dargis

    The weave of the personal and the political finally proves as irresistible as it is moving, partly because it has been drawn from extraordinary life.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Justin Chang

    That the film still works as well as it does is due to not only its polished craftsmanship and disarming comedy-of-manners approach, but also its fascinating insights into the conflicted mindset of British society

    Variety Full Review
  • Kimberley Jones

    The material is interesting, and the production values are top-notch. Anushia Nieradzik deserves special notice for her costume design; her luxurious dresses in deep shades of purple and magenta race the pulse more than anything particular in the plot or characterization. It’s all quite well done, if only a touch too decorous.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
  • Jeff Baker

    What's best about Belle is the performance of Ebatha-Raw.

    Portland Oregonian Full Review
  • Connie Ogle

    It still feels a little like a lesson you’re supposed to learn before you can enjoy anything truly satisfying.

    Miami Herald Full Review
  • Geoff Pevere

    Needless to say, Belle is a handsome piece of selectively reupholstered history, but its lesson on the victories of social progress in England seems almost as narrowly perceived as Dido’s own view of the world from the immaculately trimmed Mansfield lawns.

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Full Review
  • Bruce Ingram

    When Asante finally closes with a close-up of Belle’s portrait, there’s something in her eyes and her smile that suggests so much more.

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Glenn Kenny

    The movie is intelligently written and well-acted, but it doesn’t sit all that comfortably between the two stools of Austenesque Romance and Socially Conscious Drama. Full Review
  • Dave Calhoun

    Sometimes you find yourself wishing for an alternative version of the film unfolding before your eyes. ‘Belle’ is a good-looking and exceedingly polite film where perhaps a more complex one with less good manners would have been better.

    Time Out London Full Review
  • John DeFore

    Though the inventions of Misan Sagay's script emphasize concerns over dowries and social rank that will be grating for many contemporary viewers, extracting little of the humor that Austen regularly found in such hang-ups, the picture's sour notes are balanced by fine performances and clear historical appeal.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Angie Errigo

    If not a star-making turn, Mbatha-Raw's tough, tender performances should give her plenty of opportunities in sharper fare.

    Empire Full Review
  • Mike Scott

    Still, it's all enjoyable enough, playing out like a cross between "Pride and Prejudice" and "Amistad" -- and a welcome change of pace for those trying to avoid the radioactive spiders and time-traveling mutants that have otherwise invaded the summer movie season.

    New Orleans Times-Picayune Full Review
  • Betsy Sharkey

    Belle is greatly buoyed by Mbatha-Raw's performance. She infuses Dido with a confident and intelligent grace that keeps you engaged long after the tangled story has let both the actress and audience down.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Nathan Rabin

    As a period production, Belle is gorgeous, dazzling spectacle, replete with ornate costumes, lovely sets, and in Mbatha-Raw, a striking, charismatic lead. But the film never finds a way to invest its narrative with a sense of urgency.

    The Dissolve Full Review
  • Henry Barnes

    Amma Asante's second feature tells Dido's extraordinary story in handsome, if formulaic, style.

    The Guardian Full Review
  • Ignatiy Vishnevetsky

    This effectively turns a story about race into a story about rank.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Peter Keough

    Belle has the pace and sumptuous cinematography of a Merchant and Ivory production, but none of their memorable characters, subtle performances, or literate dialogue.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Lou Lumenick

    If you were wondering what “12 Years a Slave” might have been like as a two-part episode of “Masterpiece Theatre,” you might want to check out this unsatisfying but not uninteresting oddity. It renders another historical story about race with exquisite taste but not much in the way of passion.

    New York Post Full Review
  • Tomas Hachard

    The film is concerned largely with intellectual horrors and portrays the fight against slavery rather neatly as a growing feeling of internal guilt that slowly turns society toward the light.

    Slant Magazine Full Review
  • Stephanie Zacharek

    There's a great story here, but Asante — who has made one previous feature, the 2004 drama A Way of Life — can't quite harness its power.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Joshua Rothkopf

    Closer to a special episode of "Diff’rent Strokes" than to "12 Years a Slave," the movie seems to exist to give its white characters belated moments of conscience.

    Time Out New York Full Review
  • Rex Reed

    The Magic of Belle Isle is a warm, human, feel-good experience about bringing out the best in people, one that brings out Morgan Freeman's best performance in years.

    New York Observer Full Review
  • Stephen Holden

    Ms. Madsen, radiant and tousled, without a trace of narcissism, conveys maternal devotion, undaunted courage and a serene sensuality. Real, if idealized, grown-ups: We haven't seen them much in the movies lately, but here they are.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Pete Hammond

    Reiner has crafted the perfect summer film in The Magic Of Belle Isle. No, not one with a lot of noise and battles and comic book heroes, but rather a wonderfully laid back family story set around a gorgeous lake, about the everyday problems of real people from 7 to 70.

    Boxoffice Magazine Full Review
  • Keith Uhlich

    Though the story's wrapped-with-a-bow finale is never in doubt-ol' Meathead remains a populist, pandering Hollywood man through and through-Belle Isle still manages to cast enough of an enchanting spell.

    Time Out New York Full Review
  • Alison Willmore

    As sticky-sweet and textureless as a bowl of pudding, though an amused central performance from star Morgan Freeman continually finds nuance and the unexpected where there ultimately isn't any.

    Movieline Full Review
  • Peter Rainer

    Almost every scene is pitched for dewy sympathy. Madsen, a strong actress who might have matched Freeman, is portrayed in varying shades of blandness. Even Freeman, good as his is, is held back here. His rock bottom isn't very rocky, and far from bottomless.

    Christian Science Monitor Full Review
  • Lou Lumenick

    Even in an underwritten role, the delightful Madsen shines in her best performance since her comeback role in "Sideways."

    New York Post Full Review
  • Mark Olsen

    It has some heartfelt performances and a nice, nondescript vibe, but it's largely unmemorable.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Lisa Schwarzbaum

    A crotchety, alcoholic, wheelchair-bound coot played on cruise control by Morgan Freeman learns these recycled lessons in a pastel-colored, embroidered wall-hanging of a drama directed by Rob Reiner.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Nick Schager

    With graceless melodramatist Rob Reiner at the helm, it's predictably ironic that The Magic of Belle Isle champions the unparalleled power of imagination while displaying absolutely none of its own.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • R. Kurt Osenlund

    This gooey reteaming of Rob Reiner and Morgan Freeman is crammed tight with baldly manipulative elements, its tearjerker quota busting at the seams.

    Slant Magazine Full Review
  • Kerry Lengel

    Freeman is back in Reiner's latest, The Magic of Belle Isle, which has all the pathos and saccharine of "The Bucket List" but little of the humor. It's earnest, predictable and disposable.

    Arizona Republic Full Review
  • Mick LaSalle

    For about an hour of its running time, The Magic of Belle Isle seems like a tiresome, sentimental and slow-moving story about a grumpy old man redeemed by the sweet spirit of a rural town and by the nice family that lives next door. But no, it's even worse than that.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Sam Adams

    For a movie that spends so much time extolling the virtues of the imagination to show so little of its own is more than ironic - it's offensive.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
Add Soundtrack
  • 4. Concerto Grosso Op. 6, No. 5 in F Major, HWV 320, Andante Larghetto Writer: Stream Music Online
  • 6. Concerto Grosso Op. 6, No. 11 in A Major, HWV 329, Andante Larghetto Writer: Stream Music Online