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Movie Review: #Suffragette

A retelling of the historical times when women fought for their rights to vote and gain equality.

Review by Erika Ashley

Suffragette is a historical drama based on true events from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century depicting the lives of working women in Europe fighting for their right to politically vote. The story follows a younger lower-class working woman Maud Watts, played by Carey Mulligan, and how her internal yearning for equality awakens after witnessing the Suffragette’s impact first hand. With a helping nudge from a fellow worker Violet Miller, played by Anne-Marie Duff, Maud finds herself flung into joining a group of local Suffragettes. After joining the ranks she faces many trials and tribulations, often questioning her own abilities and self-worth during her attempts to earn the vote.

With only eight years of directing experience under her belt, the British film director, Sarah Gavron, brings a lackluster attempt at entering into Oscar season. The film opens with titles describing to the viewer what they are about to see is a fictionalized retelling of true events. Given the prompt warning, the audience has a sense that the following story might be more sensationalized but fails to even have a heartbeat. The length of the movie being just fourteen minutes shy of two hours feels exceptionally long. The one sided story lacks in more ways than one from poor direction to missing key players and hardly any musical support to keep viewers engaged. Although the film has a strong cast the performances were second rate at best.

The main character and supposed heroine Maud Watts, played by Carey Mulligan, was frustratingly monotone. Maud throughout the story denies her inclusion as a Suffragette but continually and begrudgingly goes forward with the other women and loses everything that is important to her. She unsatisfyingly remains apathetic to the very end leaving the viewer wanting and needing more. If you were to lose your home, your job, your family and reputation it would for a purpose that you are passionate about and for Maud it seemed as though she could care less and if anything continued fighting for the vote against her will. Even Brendan Gleeson that played Inspector Arthur Steed showed more passion and life than Carey Mulligan’s one note performance.

With a strong supporting cast comprised of Helena Bonham Carter, whom also contributed to the sad, apathetic feel was still the liveliest of the bunch. Not to mention the practically MIA “lead character” Emmeline Pankhurst, whom was actually a leader in the Suffragette fight, played by Meryl Streep was beyond confusing. On all of the promotional posters and marketing trailers for the film Meryl was represented to be a key factor in the story but was on screen for probably five minutes tops.

Finally the closing credits included a wrap-up title sequence that gives a retelling of facts about what had happened during the Suffragette fight and a collective sigh was heard in the theater as if the last hour and four-six minutes could have been completely disregarded. The opening and closing titles retold the entire film within a few short moments and everything in-between was lackluster filler. The real life events and historical meaning of what the real Suffragettes faced is truly endearing and motivational even to this day, but the film does those pioneering women hardly any justice.

The fight for woman’s equality is hardly over and if this film does anything, it hopefully brings the realization to this generations minds. Suffragette has a runtime of 106 minutes and is Rated PG-13 for some intense violence, thematic elements, brief strong language and partial nudity.

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