Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep fight tooth and claw though their suffering with their blood, sweat and tears for women’s rights…the right to vote being the main objective in this emotionally stimulating history drama. At the turn of the 20th century in Britain, women are still in a bout with man to have their voices heard and validated. In a heroic crusade to get women’s voting rights passed, the Suffragette movement is established. Led by the enigmatic Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep), their forces include Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan) whose independent free-thinking opinions and thoughts clash with those of her husband Sonny (Ben Whishaw). As the women fight on, they are forced to face violent oppression from the police force led by the cold-hearted and remorseless Inspector Steed (Brendan Gleeson). Nonetheless, forces have been set in motion and the country is going to change forever.
I had high hopes going into this movie at the cinema. I love history films but this is a biopic about not one single person, but a whole sex. Women who are to be respected and listened to. Men suppressed their voices because they believed all women were good for, was child-bearing and homemaking. Women were to be uneducated so they couldn’t elevate in society and the world. Education opens the door to success. Helena Bonham Carter’s (Harry Potter) character, Edith Ellyn showed us that women are just as valuable as men. She fought for an education and got one. She was that one in a million. A film about this movement is something I have wanted for a while.In that time, if you were a working class woman, you were nothing much better than livestock accountable to the hand that feeds you, men.
I had great faith in this movie because of its writer, Abi Morgan. She is the writer behind the movie and she is also responsible for the screenplay for Iron Lady recieving a BAFTA nomination for her work with Meryl Streep winning Best Actress at the Oscars for her epic performance as Margaret Thatcher. I am no fan of Thatcher but that film blew me away. Suffragette was not as good as the Iron Lady but it was still a great movie. I would say Iron Lady acts as a sort of sequel but not a sequel. It shows what achieving women’s rights did for women in the same century. Women achieved the vote in the UK in 1928 as a result of the Representation of the People Act (1928). Thatcher was elected into office in 1978 and didn’t leave until 1990. In fifty years, women had fought for the vote, won the vote and are now being voted for and winning that as well.
“We don’t want to be lawbreakers; we want to be lawmakers”
Carey Mulligan is one of the most underrated actors currently active today. She has been typecast to the period genre whether that be the obvious period drama, period history or period crime. She was in The Great Gatsby with Leonardo DiCaprio (Wolf Of Wall Street), Bleak House with Charles Dance (Game Of Thrones) and Gillian Anderson (Hannibal) but she was also in Far From The Madding Crowd quite recently as well. My introduction to Mulligan was in Doctor Who. This episode has a reputation for scaring kids shitless with first look at the now notorious Weeping Angels in Whovian circles. This episode was called Blink which also starred David Tennant (Broadchurch) and Freema Agyeman (Sense8). Mulligan delivers a solid performance in Suffragette full of emotion and compassion yet with an admirable seriousness to her persona as well.
Ben Whishaw (Skyfall) plays Maude’s husband, Sonny Watts. He’s much alike the rest of the male population of Britain at that time. A firm traditionalist believing that women were supposed to be childbearing and homemakers. He kicks her out of the house and stops her seeing their son when she joins the Suffragetes and is arrested for for fighting for her rights.
“You’re a mother, Maude. You’re a wife, my wife. That’s what you’re meant to be.”
It’s deeds not words that got women the vote. At the premiere of Suffragete, activists saw it as a good publicity stunt to make an appearance to make people aware that the fight was still being fought. In the East, women still don’t have the right that they so deserve. It wasn’t so long ago that Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head for protesting for a woman’s right to an education. She believes that everyone should have an education regardless of ethnicity, social class, creed or sex. In Pakistan, women are expected to be childbearing and home makers. In some parts of the East, women are to have a male escort. It’s astounding that some places are still very conservative in this growing liberal world.
I only have one qualm with this movie. For a film about women’s rights and votes for women, I would have liked more of an appearance from Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) as Emmeline Pankhurst, the leader of the Suffragetes. Streep as Pankhurst was quality but I don’t think we received more than fifteen minutes of screen time. She gives a great speech telling her followers to openly defy the authorities and the government. Then she is gone because she is wanted by the police. When people think of this movement, they think of the Pankhursts but most notably Emmeline. Suffragete revolves around Mrs Watts, Edith and renowned suffragette, Emily Davison (Natalie Press) more than Emmeline Pankhurst. Davison being infamous for putting herself in front of the King’s horse. Historians consistently have the argument whether she had intended to die or not.
What we did see was solid and a grand performance from Meryl Streep. She has won two Oscars in the Best Actress category (Iron Lady, Sophie’s Choice) and one in the Best Supporting Actress category (Kramer vs Kramer). She has been nominated nineteen times in total for an Academy Award. That’s not just down to chance. If she had more screen time, I would have liked to see her in the Oscar race yet again in the Best Supporting Actress category but Anne Hathaway did win an Oscar for five minutes of screen time in Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables. Anything is possible.
In conclusion, the filmmaking was pretty good. It showed that many women were willing to do anything for the cause (many had nothing to lose) but others could be emotionally manipulated with things such as their children, as we see in the film. Not being able to see her son George and being forced to sleep in the church turns Maud into a social outcast. She’s not to associated with. Her face is on an FBI-esque most wanted page in local newspapers. All the cast were very convincing and it is highly common with films like this that the performances tend to feel flimsy. Suffragete went against this norm. Mulligan has excelled in this role. Her character has fallen from grace. She lost her husband and her child all for the cause. The film has a great cast, great direction and great hair and costume design, considering the period setting. Also a great musical score from Alexandre Desplat (Godzilla).