Finally, I was able to see the film I have been excited for since mid-2014 when I stumbled upon them filming outside the Houses of Parliament. Suffragette Directed by Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane, This Little Life) and starring Carey Mulligan (An Education, Far From the Madding Crowd, The Great Gatsby), Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech, Sweeny Todd, Les Misérables) and briefly Meryl Streep (Into the Woods, The Hours, Sophie’s Choice).
Suffragette followed Mulligan’s character Maud as she slowly starts to fight back against the systematic oppression of women. The film is definitely a slow burner and I think it does a good job of building up the tension and anger felt by the protagonist as well as developing her character with Mulligan’s terrific performance. I also really enjoyed Helena Bonham Carter’s character as well as Anne Marie-Duff’s (Before I go to Sleep, Nowhere Boy). They were really great believable supporting characters that added depth to the story.
The film does play out as more of a history lesson and I feel that it fails in some ways to stir up emotion especially if you are already familiar with the Suffragette movement. Nothing was particularly surprising or shocking to me, in fact the most heart wrenching moments were about the life of the ficticious Maud rather than the more historically based areas of the film. However, I think that to someone new to the history that it would be very educational despite being a fictional story because I know that I personally, knew nothing of the suffragettes until my optional GCSE History classes at school meaning that a lot of people that see this film may be shocked by some of the treatment of the suffragettes.
I do feel that perhaps the cast was a bit too small sometimes, you didn’t really feel the scale of the movement. However, I really loved the ending in which they blend the film with real life footage of the suffragettes, it’s the only time in the film it feels like the movement is bigger than the few on screen. I did however, have an issue with the rolling list of dates that stated when suffrage was won for women in different countries right before the credits of the film, because it stated that it was 1920 for the U.S.A. which is forgetting the fact that black women were not able to vote until 1965, I think it’s a shame that they did not clarify this.
I think the film does a good job of telling an important story without glamourising the struggle for women in Britain to get the vote, it also does a good job of not making you feel like the fight for women’s rights is over. I did really enjoy the film and definitely recommend you give it a watch!