One man's role in the long battle to outlaw slavery in the United Kingdom sets the stage for this historical drama from director Michael Apted. In 1784, 21-year-old William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd) was elected to the British House of Commons, and soon established himself as a politician with a conscience. Several years later, his close friend William Pitt (Benedict Cumberbatch) became prime minister, and together they made a bold plan to introduce a bill banning slavery before the English legislature. Wilberforce was aided by anti-slavery activists Olaudah Equiano (Youssou N'Dour) and Thomas Clarkson (Rufus Sewell); however, pro-slavery hard-liners Lord Tarleton (Ciarán Hinds) and the Duke of Clarence (Toby Jones) spearheaded a hard-fought opposition to the legislation, and despite Wilberforce's best efforts, his bill went down in defeat. In 1797, Wilberforce left politics due to poor health and a battered spirit; staying at the country home of his friends Henry and Marianne Thornton (Nicholas Farrell and Sylvestra Le Touzel), he became acquainted with Barbara Spooner (Romola Garai), a beautiful woman with progressive views. Spooner became deeply infatuated with Wilberforce, and she encouraged him not to give up on his noble goals; with her help, Wilberforce launched a second campaign to persuade England's lawmakers to end the slave trade. Amazing Grace made its North American premiere as the closing-night gala attraction at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival.
by Mark Deming synopsis