Film Review: Suffragette

In association with the Grosvenor

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As I gaze around the dimly lit cinema room, ogling my fellow Meryl Streep fans, I begin to notice a peculiar thing: a sea of cauliflower heads. No, I’m not hallucinating. Yes, the room is full of old people. I am the youngest person in the room to give a shit about the history of women’s suffrage.

Despite this disheartening realisation, Suffragette proved itself to be a harrowing snapshot of the endurances of women fighting for the vote, with accurate portrayals and a gut-wrenching performance from Carey Mulligan. But all in all, this film betrayed its own ambition with its rigid structure, rarely deviating from classic scenes that we had already anticipated in our minds.

We follow the journey of Maud (Carey Mulligan) from an obedient wife and employee, working in grueling conditions at the laundry, to a disobedient woman and all-out suffragette. The film explores archaic perceptions of gender roles and exposes the vicious oppression of the patriarchy doing whatever they could to defy women’s rights and voices, whether through physical abuse, rape, or imprisonment.

The performances of Carey Mulligan, Anne-Marie Duff, and Helena Bonham Carter are commendable, convincing and moving, encapsulating the rage and the resilience of the suffragettes to a world that refused their existence. As much as it pains me to say, Meryl Streep’s brief appearance as Emmeline Pankhurst was satisfying at best; it seemed two-dimensional, like a cartoon caricature of Mrs Pankhurst, wholly lacking conviction.

The most surprising element of the film was how little attention it paid to Emily Davidson, a suffragette who gave her life for the cause. Her appearance is fleeting until the scene where she steps out in front of the king’s horse. Why isn’t her story focused on in any depth? For a movie about the suffragette movement it seems oddly disrespectful in certain portrayals of its pioneers.

Overall, Suffragette was a realistic depiction of the fight for women’s suffrage. Although peppered with inconsistencies, this film is poignant and stirring and a long time coming. Suffragette acts as an emblem of what can be achieved in the fight for women’s rights today.

[Mina Green]

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