NewsBlaze search box Daily News header

Amazing Grace Film Review

by Kam Williams


Life of Leading Brit Abolitionist Recalled by Brilliant Bio-Pic

William Wilberforce (1759-1833) was born into a well-to-do family of British merchants. He attended Cambridge University which is where he forged an enduring friendship with William Pitt the Younger (Benedict Cumberbatch), a classmate who would become England's youngest Prime Minister a few years after graduation.

Rather than follow in his father's footsteps, Wilberforce also opted to enter politics, and was first elected to Parliament at the age of 21, representing Yorkshire. Inspired to serve more by humanitarian interests than by blind ambition, the young philanthropist soon became a leading advocate of social reform.


But he really found his true calling after becoming an Evangelical Christian when he came under the influence of abolitionists like Thomas Clarkson (Rufus Sewell) and John Newton (Albert Finney), the remorseful, former slave ship captain who had written the hymn Amazing Grace following a dramatic religious conversion. Wilberforce experienced a similar transformational spiritual encounter which prompted him to lobby tirelessly against slavery for the next 20 years.

And it is this uphill battle which is vividly recounted in Amazing Grace, a compelling bio-pic from veteran director Michael Apted, who is probably best known for the 7 UP series of documentaries. Here, Apted ever so convincingly conveys the notion that an impassioned idealist is just as capable of shaping history as the monarchs and military heroes who are typically the subject of this sort of costume drama.


Ioan Gruffudd makes a yeoman's effort as William Wilberforce in a challenging role which calls for him to portray, empathetically, a determined character somehow simultaneously imbued with an endearing humility offset by a God-ordained self-righteousness. The stellar supporting cast includes Youssou N'Dour as ex-slave Oloudah Equiano, Romola Garai as Wilberforce's wife Barbara Spooner, and Michael Gambon as Lord Charles Fox.

Be forewarned, audience members expecting eye-popping action sequences are apt to be disappointed by this character-driven production. However, those approaching the picture as an overdue tribute to an overlooked icon are apt to be richly rewarded, and perhaps even inspired by this self-empowerment flick which arrives at a time when society is sorely in need of another such hero.

Excellent (3.5 stars)
Rated PG for mild epithets and mature themes involving slavery. Running time: 111 minutes
Studio: Samuel Goldwyn Films

  Please click this get stories by email button to be notified about future stories, and please leave a comment below.

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

Related Movie Reviews News

This spring alone, Zoe has a half-dozen films released in theaters, including the blockbusters Insurgent and Mad Max: Fury Road, as well as Good Kill, The Road Within, Dope and Treading Water. Here, she talks about life and about her latest movies.
Alice, a manic depressive bipolar diehard Oprah fan becomes rich, and creates a TV series about herself, an emotional exhibitionist who couch potatoes love.
Rose sat down to talk about the Ross Katz directed bittersweet dramady, while finishing off an alfalfa burger and diving into an accompanying plate of fries.
And 'how the art world stopped thinking about inequality and learned to love the bling.'
Kevin James talks to Kam Williams about his role in the Paul Blart: Mall Cop sequel
Freida Pinto, born in Mumbai, India, showed an interest in acting early on, participating in community theater and school productions.

 

NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month


Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

NewsBlaze
Copyright © 2004-2014 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site