Based on real events from a century ago that still resonate today, SUFFRAGETTE adopts a cleverly fictionalised angle to explore the suffrage movement – a story that has, surprisingly, barely been explored on film before.
My only exposure to the suffrage movement prior this flick was Mrs Banks in Disney’s MARY POPPINS (sing it with me now: “we’re clearly soldiers in petticoats! And dauntless crusaders for women’s votes!”), thus I had little grasp of the real struggle women faced. SUFFRAGETTE does well to educate the ignorant Generation Y (such as myself).
Focussing on the ‘foot-soldiers’ of the movement (a.k.a the working class women), SUFFRAGETTE follows Maud Watts (played by an utterly believably Carey Mulligan) a working mother whose life falls apart after enlisting to join the cause. Mulligan is ably supported by a strong cast; Helena Bonham Carter, Anne-Marie Duff and Ben Whishaw to name a few….Meryl Streep even makes an appearance.
It’s a gritty look at the hard life faced by woman in the early 1900s. The film is a realistically grim portrayal and boasts a solid ‘lived in’ look: Too often films set in times gone by look ‘fresh’ or overly staged. Not here – it oozes realism.
Despite the slightly depressing subject matter, Director Sarah Gavron works to keep the interaction fresh and lively, and each speech is carefully constructed so as to not feel like a sermon, but more like a simple plea for fairness.
It is also noted that men are represented relatively fairly in the film, with the odd husband trying to be supportive of the women’s cause. This ensures the film doesn’t become too “bra-burning” in feel.
Despite all these good points, there is something about SUFFRAGETTE that doesn’t quick stick. Whether it be owing to the finale involving a character we had little chance to connect with, or perhaps it’s just a ‘downer’ ending…. Either way the film has lots going for it, but is not quite as impressive as it could be.
SUFFRAGETTE allows us to celebrate the progress Western society has made in the past hundred years, it reminds us of the people we have to thank for sparking this progress – but also tells us we’re not quite there yet. I rate it 6 stars.