As we struggle and grapple with contemporary inequality issues – race, the economic divide, gay rights, etc – it is well to see this film, reminding us that it has been less than a century since women's rights were recognized and women made equal to men in voting, parental rights (if not economic equality .) and presence in politics and entertainment. Abi Morgan's script is excellent as is Sarah Gavron's direction, and with the superlative support of a cast of gifted actors this film breathes reality, memory, and reminders of a status struggle of the fairly recent past.
SUFFRAGETTE tracks the story of the foot soldiers of the early feminist movement, women who were forced underground to pursue a dangerous game of cat and mouse with an increasingly brutal State in England. These women were not primarily from the genteel educated classes; they were working women who had seen peaceful protest achieve nothing. Radicalized and turning to violence as the only route to change, they were willing to lose everything in their fight for equality - their jobs, their homes, their children and their lives. Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan) was one such foot soldier. The opposite side of the feminist movement is well presented by Maud's husband Sonny (Ben Whishaw (on of the more gifted actors on the screen today) who provides a degree of bilateral balance, a man who loves his wife and child and simply does not want to see his family endangered by Maud's growing involvement in the movement.
Other brilliant performances are offered by Anne-Marie Duff, Romola Garai, Helena Bonham Carter, Brendan Gleason, Natalie Press and Meryl Streep as the queen of the movement Emmeline Pankhurst.
The story of Maud's fight for dignity is as gripping and visceral as any thriller, it is also heart breaking and inspirational. An altogether brilliant film. Grady Harp, February 16
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