Suffragette is the long overdue film which gives the dramatic account of some of the pivotal moments in British women’s rights history. The film boasts many A-list actors that give outstanding performances throughout, such as Meryl Streep whose screen time was short-lived but nonetheless inspirational. Those with much more screen time like Helena Bonham-Carter, Carey Mulligan and Anne-Marie Duff give performances that are hard to fault.
Screen writer Abi Morgan’s previous work has shed light on women’s issues before for example Sex Traffic. While at the BFI London Film Festival Morgan suggested she will for the next four or five years be focusing on productions based on the experiences of women. In Suffragette she teams up with director Sarah Gavron who she worked with once before on a previous production Brick Lane. Morgan has also worked with Meryl Streep before in historically based film The Iron Lady.
While the film includes many of the famous pivotal moments in suffragette history including speeches by Emmeline Pankhurst, the leader of the Suffragettes, and concludes with Emily Wilding Davison throwing herself in front of King George V’s horse at the Epsom derby. Morgan decides to portray the story through the eyes of factory worker Maud Watts played by Carey Mulligan.
Watts is from a lower class and was somewhat reluctant to join the suffragettes at the start of the film and focused more on her work and family, but she soon found herself in the centre of the suffragette movement and ultimately ended up risking everything for what she believed in.
The film takes you through a range of emotions, at different points of the film I found myself gasping and feeling angry yet powerless to what I was witnessing. Not to long afterwards I was laughing and feeling inspired by the comradery shown, but of course before I knew it I was back to crying at heart wrenching scenes. Throughout I was constantly on the edge of my seat, and while some parts were hard to watch I still could not tear my eyes away from the screen which in itself is the highest praise I can give.
On reflection it is notable that some storylines that were developing alongside the main ones were dropped off with no conclusion for example what is going to happen to Maud, as she was not left in a good position. Since this is my only criticism I feel I only give it as I got too involved with the characters and really that just demonstrates how terrific the acting and direction of the film was.
The timing of the film could not have been better with the news of domestic violence cuts. Protesters actually used the film’s premiere as their opportunity to draw media attention to the issues much like the suffragettes did less than 100 years ago.
The final few minutes of the film drove home its serious nature, while we may roll our eyes at some of the sexist comments made; it demonstrates that the fight for equality is not yet over.
You will not leave the cinema feeling anything less than empowered and grateful. The film sheds light on history that everyone should be aware of but also proud of the women who quite literally risked it all for what they believed in.