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2018 BFI London Film Festival Review – Peterloo

Waterloo, 2018.

Directed by Mike Leigh.

Starring Maxine Peake, Rory Kinnear, Neil Bell, Pearce Quigley, David Moorst, Rachel Finnegan, Tom Meredith, Simona Bitmate, Robert Wilfort, Karl Johnson, Sam Troughton, Alastair Mackenzie, David Bamber and Tim McInnerny.

Synopsis:

The story of the 1819 Peterloo Massacre where British forces attacked a peaceful pro-democracy rally in Manchester.

Peterloo is a film of both epic and regional importance, telling the tale of the massacre at St Peter’s Field in Manchester in August 1819 when 60,000 workers turned out to demand parliamentary reform and listen to sympathetic, radical orators. Its execution, though, is sadly a bit muddled.

An interesting and important piece of history to translate to the screen, director Mike Leigh has probably overestimated the audience’s appetite for historical accuracy and multiple arguments: a good three-quarters of the film is given over to various groups of people having discussions and meetings in many different rooms, voicing their dissatisfaction.

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