As Marjorie Skinner writes of Amma Asante's Belle:
Loosely based on the real-life subject of a portrait that currently hangs in a Scottish castle, Belle is a very Jane Austen–esque portrayal of Dido Elizabeth Belle. The child of an African slave and an English gentleman, she was nonetheless raised among the high society of her father’s side. There’s plenty of fictionalization here, but the basic facts of the real Belle’s unusual position allow the film to effectively tackle a satisfying blend of social and personal issues. Race isn’t usually the primary topic of such impeccably costumed drawing rooms and garden parties (fear not: husband-hunting remains a close second), but Belle’s subject matter is more remarkable than its form—not a bad thing if you appreciate a well-executed, romantic (if conventional) sweep of a period drama (and I do).
Other films opening today: X-Men: Days of Future Past ("By cramming in at least 4,000 mutants and a story that spans continents and decades, there’s a whole lot of gibberish going on....but despite all that chaos, it ends up being pretty good!" writes Erik Henriksen); the hot Eisenberg-on-Eisenberg action of the Dostoevsky riff The Double ("It’s not an entirely satisfying experience, but it is a curious, provocative, and absorbing one," writes Alison Hallett); the new Jim Mickle noir Cold in July; the Argentine historical drama about Josef Mengele The German Doctor, and the Jon Favreau foodie comedy Chef.
Meanwhile, over at Northwest Film Forum, today brings the kick-off to Navajo Weekend, three days of the best in contemporary Navajo cinema, including the Navajo film about Navajo filmmaking Navajos Film Themselves and Navajo Star Wars, in which George Lucas's 1977 classic is re-dubbed by seventy voice actors using five Navajo dialects.
See all of the week's movie times right here.