Belle is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the mixed-raced daughter of Rear Admiral Sir John Lindsay, a successful naval officer who was knighted for his role in the Seven Year Wars (1756-63). It was during this conflict that, on a Spanish slave ship, he first met Dido's mother, Maria Belle. After her mother dies Sir John Lindsay sends Dido to live with his uncle, Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson), at Kenwood House, an impressive stately home on the northern border of Hampstead Heath just north of London

Though Lord and Lady Mansfield (Emma Watson) have no children of their own they raise Dido along with Lady Elizabeth Murray (Sarah Gadon), another great niece taken in by them after her mothers death.

Dido is raised as a member of the family and she enjoys a sisterly relationship with Elizabeth. She is involved in family social occasions and treated fondly by Lord Mansfield. However no matter how close she is to her family they can never overlook the colour of her skin or her illegitimacy and she is never considered Elizabeth's equal. Social standing and money is everything to the family and The Mansfield's try to find suitable husbands for Elizabeth and Dido. After inheriting her fathers wealth Dido suddenly finds her social standing has risen and wealthy suitors come courting. However Dido only has eyes for a poor Clergy man John Davinier (Sam Reid) who also happens to be an up and coming lawyer.

When Lord Mansfield, The Lord Chief Justice, must rule on an important slavery court case, Dido disobeys him and goes behind his back to meet and support John Daviniert. This leads to an emotional confrontation between Dido and her adopted family.

Belle is a wonderful piece of filmmaking. It's moving, touching and the acting is impeccable, Mbatha-Raw, who is mesmerising when she is on screen, and Wilkinson are both outstanding. Belle is one of the films of the year so far and is not to be missed, highly recommended.

Belle (12 A)

1h 43m

Director: Amma Asante
Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson, Emily Watson, Sarah Gadon, Penelope Wilton, Miranda Richardson, Tom Felton, Matthew Goode

UK Release: Friday 13th June 2014

Belle - "Talks With Mr Davinier" Clip

Belle - "Is This What You Want" Clip