Movie Review: Suffragette (2015)

Posted: July 6, 2016 in Drama
Tags: , ,


Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan) is a laundry worker in England in the early 1900’s.  She is not a suffragette, but is attracted to the movement by a co-worker named Violet Miller. (Anne Marie Duff) Violet introduces Maud to Edith Ellyn (Helena Bonham Carter) a pharmacist, who’s not averse to using violence.  Violet, Edith, and others take Maud to see Emmaline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep) one of the pioneers of the suffragette movement in England.  As she gets enmeshed deeper and deeper in the movement, the movement becomes more and more violent, and Maud gets repeatedly jailed, beaten, intimidated, loses her son and her job.  The police are surveilling the women the whole time, and police inspector Arthur Steed (Brandon Gleeson) is trying to get an informant inside the women’s movement.  Steed offers Maud a deal, give him information on the leaders of the suffragette movement, and he will drop all charges against her. Does he take the deal?

Suffragette is a great idea for a movie, the early women’s movement is an interesting subject for a movie, unfortunately, the story is so redundant, and blandly written, that it does a disservice to the suffragette movement.  Jailed, beaten, released, over and over again, and then it takes its focus off the main character.  The ending is more of a relief than a climax, and it doesn’t really give the viewer a satisfactory conclusion.

The meandering screenplay undermines a great performance by Carey Mulligan, she pours her whole being into this performance, she looks physically and emotionally drained by the time the film is over. She inhabits the character of Maud, and she has nothing to show for it, because the screenplay is sleep -inducing.   Meryl Streep has one speech in the entire movie, and that’s it, so if a viewer is tuning in to see a great Meryl Streep performance, that viewer will be disappointed.  It is a short Meryl Steep performance that is all.  Helena Bonham Carter gives an excellent performance as a violent activist for the feminist cause, but it’s wasted by a drab screenplay.

The direction is also inconstant, there are visually stunning shots of the British architecture, but the shots have this gray, dank, backdrop to all of them and that sets a very depressing mood.  The protests and the beatings are shot with hand-held cameras, which is an overused technique by now, and starts to grate on the viewer after a while.  The pacing is leaden, and not even  great performances from Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter tell me anything about this director, because they are both great actors.

Suffragette Insufferable.



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