Director: Sarah Gavron; Main Cast: Carey Mulligan, Anne-Marie Duff, Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Whishaw, Romola Garai, Brendan Gleeson, Meryl Streep;
Heartfelt and compelling story about a fight for fundamental rights (one of many in human history) seen through the eyes of Maud (Mulligan), who goes from downtrodden worker bee in a industrial laundry and submissive wife to staunch supporter and activist of the Women’s Social and Political Union at the beginning of the twentieth century. Mulligan’s character evolves slowly, spurred by another worker, Violet (Duff), recently arrived at the laundry, and then charmed by collected, singleminded Edith (Bonham Carter), a local medical doctor. Maud is capable and smart, hard worker and loving mother but she has been told all her life that she will never amount to anything (both with words and violence) and that made her submissive and scared. However, once Maud glimpses another way of approaching life, seeing women like her stand up for themselves and fight, she starts to find her inner strength and becomes an activist. Everything begins with a public hearing of a MP’s committee for women’s enfranchisement: Maud gives a matter-of-fact but convincing testimony of her life as worker. From that moment on, the audience dives, along with Maud, in the activities of the women’s movement that, incited by their charismatic leader Emmeline Pankhurst (Streep), are taken up a notch. What follows is a series of historical documented actions: firebombing of letterboxes, blowing up empty country estates, hunger strikes during imprisonment and Emily Davison’s martyrdom at the Epsom Derby. As we follow the struggle of these women to see recognised their right to vote, we get to know also the minds of the men. Unfortunately they aren’t portrayed in a positive light. Sonny (Whishaw) is Maud’s rather spineless husband, who kicks her out of their house because of peer-pressure from colleagues and acquaintances; inspector Steed (Gleeson) is the armed response of the Government, trained to deal with anarchists, bolsheviks and Irish insurgents, who treats these women as a dangerous threat to society. The supervisor at the laundry is downright vicious and the various Government’s officials are patronising, dismissive or out for blood and all very vague entities. The only redeeming male figure is Edith’s husband, who supports and protects her as much as possible. Unfortunately he’s a very marginal character in the story, which is a pity because it would have added an interesting point of view. Sarah Gavron’s film is engaging and show us historical events that are very seldom shown at the cinema. Carey Mulligan’s performance conveys both strength and vulnerability very effectively and she’s helped by a solid supporting cast. Illuminating —7.5/10
7 responses to “Suffragette”
I’ve been interested in this topic since I did a report on the suffragettes in the U.S. and I’m interested in seeing the British side of it. I’m so glad you liked this Marta. I just put myself on hold for it at the library.
It’s an interesting and compelling story, I’m sure you are going to like it!
I’ll let you know!
I liked this one but left slightly disappointed. I felt it glossed over several things and really rushed the ending. But Mulligan was superb (as always).
I see your point Keith. I guess the subject is very complicated and multi-layered and it can be difficult to cover it thoroughly and tie up all the loose ends.
Yes, Carey Mulligan was superb. She needed to carry this movie – no small task – but she makes it look easy. I hadn’t seen her in anything before & was so impressed.
I liked the point you raised about Edith’s husband. He was one of the few good men in this film, and it was a shame he wasn’t in more scenes.
If you liked Carey Mulligan, I strongly suggest you to watch An Education, Far From The Madding Crowd and Never Let Me Go.
A positive male perspective would have added an interesting layer to an already compelling story.