It’s a Saturday night and I need to watch a movie. My wife goes to Walgreens and comes home with a fun, light hearted movie to watch…Suffragette, which has 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. I was immediately, although silently, worried that this would be a really dull film and I would be miserable. I’d not really heard of it and the cover photo on IMDb didn’t bode well for any counter opinions. Nonetheless, I smiled and said, “Let’s watch,” while silently thinking I’d fall asleep for the first time during a film this year.
It’s 1920’s Britain and women are being mistreated and have almost no rights. Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan) is a hard worker and a good mother and wife to her family, but finds herself in the middle of a protest. Her co-worker Violet Miller (Anne-Marie Duff) is one of the protestors and she brings Maud into the fold. Once indoctrinated Maud finds her passion and her world suddenly turns.
The film is based on true events but the characters are fictional. Thus, like many films based on truth, it’s really a work of fiction. The underlying story of the fight for women’s rights is extremely inspiring and tragic. I’m an advocate for equality all the way across the board, and the way the treatment of women was depicted is horrifying. In that way, the movie is a success.
The movie falls short by narrowing the focus of the drama on Maud. Everything goes wrong when she commits to the fight. It feels very scripted and doesn’t push the normal storytelling beats. It seems that the film could have focused more on the struggle of the times and not Maud’s individual battle. I do like small stories, but her story seemed to reflect what many of the other women were also going through as a result of their political stance.
The film is well acted featuring Mulligan, Duff, Helena Bonham Carter (one of my favorite performances of her as I like seeing her being normal for a change), Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson, and a small, but powerful, showing by Meryl Streep. I wish Gleeson had been more impacting as his character represents the opinions of the men in the society. He’s prominent, but often in the background looking very much Mad Eye Moody-ish.
The film production and cinematography was great. In the opening sequence we see the women working in the laundry house from this very low angle perspective. Then a women walks over the camera and ripples spring forth showing that we are looking through a puddle on the floor. It’s such an interesting visual and a way of relaying that the working conditions are not great.
I went into this film expecting to not like it, but it did win me over. It’s not as impacting as I think it could have been, but it was definitely A Decent Watch. Sarah Gavron (director) and Abi Morgan (writer) did a decent job of telling this story in a way that definitely made me angry at the ignorance of men, but left me wanting a little more in order to make this film great.