Loosely inspired by a true story, this period drama about Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) comes to vivid life.

The illegitimate daughter of a Royal Navy captain and an African slave, Belle was raised among the aristocracy in 18th-century England and the film contrives a romantic plot in which she’s courted by a fortune-hunting snob (James Norton), falls for an idealistic lawyer (Sam Reid) and also inspires her great uncle, Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson), to make a landmark legal ruling against the slave trade.

Mbatha-Raw gives a wonderful performance and though the movie plays around with the facts – in reality she wasn’t an heiress and her future husband was a servant – it is always engrossing and by the time the entwined romantic and legal plots come to a head, you will find yourself cheering her on.