Suffragette (12A)

Directed by Sarah Gavron
Starring Carey Mulligan, Meryl Streep, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne-Marie Duff, Brendan Gleeson, Ben Wishaw, Romola Garai, Samuel West, Natalie Press

The story of the British Suffragette movement is a very important one and it is suprising that the story hasn't been told on film or TV for a long time. Such a shame therefore that this film is so...well...DULL! Look at that cast list! A fantastic collection of talent, the writer is Abi Morgan whose previous works include The Iron Lady and BBC2s The Hour, an action packed story. So what goes wrong? For a start, the woes heaped on fictional amalgam character Maud (Mulligan) might be realistic, but comes across as too much. Lovely Ben Wishaw and sturdy Brendan Gleeson act like pantomime villains. The home and work situation of Maud and other working class women are just so squalid it seems unbelievable. Almost every man in the film is a complete bastard from husband Ben Wishaw to Maud's terrible boss to the poilce and politicians. Meanwhile almost all the women are saintly martyrs! I have no doubt the flim makers researched their facts about life for working women, but unfortunately, we like our period dramas to be a little more rose-tinted - or at least a little less downtrodden and depressing!
Meryl Streep as Emmaline Pankhurst, the name many people will know as a suffragette, only appears in one or two scenes while the film focusses on those working class women, poor, without Pankhurst's privileged postion. It is all very well intentioned, with its heart in the right place and when shown in schools, the kids should enjoy it and learn. Unfortunately it is leaden and plodding and pretty disappointing. I so wanted to be standing up and cheering rather than rather depressed when coming out of this film.
All the performances were good, but a missed opportunity.



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