If you love classical romance-dramas like Joe Wright's Pride And Prejudice or Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility, then you'll revel in Belle. Director Amma Asante's take on the genre is elegant, provocative, and based on a true story.

Belle tells the incredible and inspiring tale of Dido Elizabeth Belle, an 18th century aristocrat born of an African slave and a British naval officer. Though raised as a lady, her color made her an outcast. In an age where a woman's fortune depends on her husband, Dido seemed doomed. A man of good standing was unlikely to marry a woman of color, while a man of low rank would be denied by her family to preserve their honorable name. Yet Dido finds herself in a love triangle…

Asante explores standard themes of status and oppression, but the addition of race to the conflict makes Belle feel electrifyingly modern. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is utterly captivating as the film's courageous heroine. She's surrounding by an impeccable supporting cast that includes Emily Watson, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton, and Sarah Gadon. The script is as rich in emotion as the production design is in color and texture. Both are breathtaking.

Belle is not just one of my favorite movies of the summer, or one of 2014. So full of passion, emotion and wit, Belle is quickly climbing the ranks to become one of my favorite movies, period. Gorgeous and unforgettable, it'll grab you and never let go.

This beautiful biopic is now out on VOD. - Kristy Puchko

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