Movie Review: David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike outshine the filmmaking in A United Kingdom

READ ON: The A.V. Club

David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike have strikingly similar career trajectories. Both England-born actors started out in television in the late ’90s before jumping to feature films in the early-to-mid ’00s, and they both had overdue breakout roles in 2014: She as the title character in Gone Girl, he as Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma (only one of them was Oscar-nominated, but they both deserved it). Perhaps it’s this common ground that helps to make them so convincing as kindred spirits in A United Kingdom. The real-life characters they’re playing have less in common, at least on the surface.

Pike is Ruth Williams, a Londoner who works in an office by day and occasionally accompanies her sister Muriel (Laura Carmichael) to local dances at night. That’s where she meets Seretse Khama (Oyelowo). After a pleasant first date, she finds out that Khama is a prince of Bechuanaland ...