Suffragette (2015)

PG-13   |    |  Biography, Drama, History


Suffragette (2015) Poster

In 1912 London, a young working mother is galvanized into radical political activism supporting the right for women to vote, and is willing to meet violence with violence to achieve this end.

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6.9/10
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  • Meryl Streep and Grace Gummer at an event for Suffragette (2015)
  • Meryl Streep at an event for Suffragette (2015)
  • Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan at an event for Suffragette (2015)
  • Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan at an event for Suffragette (2015)
  • Carey Mulligan at an event for Suffragette (2015)
  • Carey Mulligan in Suffragette (2015)

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28 October 2015 | davidgee
8
| The high price of Votes For Women
Scripted by Abi Morgan, who gave us THE IRON LADY four years ago, this is a finely judged snapshot of a key year (1912-13) in the decades-long battle for women to get the vote in England. Meryl Streep has brief but commanding appearances as cranky old Mrs Pankhurst, imperiously redirecting her campaign from the ruling class to the working class. The key character here is the fictitious Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan), a young laundrywoman and mother who is drawn into the new campaign of 'civil disobedience', which will soon include blowing up post boxes and cutting telegraph wires.

Of the male characters, only Helena Bonham Carter's husband (Finbar Lynch) is sympathetic to the Cause. Brendan Gleeson's police inspector is well-served by the writer: central to the brutally repressive treatment of the Suffragettes, he is allowed a moment of doubt towards the end. Ben Whishaw seems uncomfortable in the challenging role of Maud's husband, totally intolerant her involvement with the Movement.

This is, in the fullest possible sense, a Women's Picture, written and directed (Sarah Gavron) by women, and it is the women who make it work and make it pull at your heartstrings. Bonham-Carter, Anne-Marie Duff and Romola Garai give telling performances. Carey Mulligan, who somehow didn't seem to get the period right in the remake of FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD, is at her absolute best here, utterly convincing as an oppressed working mother reluctantly drawn into the campaign to give women fairer pay and a voice in the governance of the realm.

The Dickensian factory-sized laundry (a museum piece or a reconstruction?) is magnificently awful, and the teeming crowd scenes outside Parliament and at the fateful Epsom Derby suggest the production must have had a good budget (or some crafty CGI). There are moments of humour in the grim struggle, but this movie brings to life vividly and touchingly the high price paid by some women to obtain the right to vote for all women.

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