The League of Extraordinary Gentlewomen: A review of Suffragette

Suffragette (2015)

Suffragette (2015)

“We’re clearly soldiers in petticoats
And dauntless crusaders for woman’s votes
Though we adore men individually
We agree that as a group they’re rather stupid”

At the end of ‘Suffragette’, a list of countries and years detailing when Women were allowed to vote came up on the screen, New Zealand was the earliest in 1893, and in Saudi Arabia, 2015 is the first time that women will be allowed to cast a vote there. It’s an interesting and thoughtful end to the film that shows us how we’ve come, but also how far we haven’t.

It’s fair to say that we don’t live in a completely just and equal society, just this week in the UK, politicians voted 305 to 287 against scrapping the Tampon Tax on female sanitary products, a move that allows society to go back a bit. The women who fought so hard to get the vote had bigger fish to fry, but around a hundred years of change has still got some way to go before things are the way they should be.

So we have ‘Suffragette’, a film that, whilst only broadly explaining the struggles of women back then, still provides the noble backstory to one of the 20th centuries greatest victories. It’s been said that It’s a film that mothers should take their daughters to see, but it would also benefit many men to see it, showing them the struggles that they never had to face, and highlighting what injustices still reside in the world today.

‘Suffragette’ isn’t the best film that could be made of this story, but it’s the one that we have at this point in time. It may dramatise so many things, and there may be some falsehoods in the nature of the film’s historical accuracy, but it succeeds in telling a great story well.

It’s directed with assured knowledge, telling the story of the fictional Maud Watts as she becomes part of the Suffragette movement and works alongside real-life figureheads, Emmeline Pankhurst and Emily Davison, to get women the right to vote. Carey Mulligan is Maud, confidently playing a woman out of her depth and on the brink of losing her family, but she holds it together for her young son, whom her relationship with is one of the films key and more powerful stories.

She, like Helena Bonham Carter and Anne-Marie Duff, give great performances, imbuing their fictional characters with energy and grace as they try, and sometimes fail to fight for their rights. Brendan Gleeson is also quite snarly as Inspector Arthur Steed, a man who is out to get Maud and the rest of the Suffragettes, and plays every scene with a steely gaze.

The film has nice cinematography from Eduard Grau, and a powerful striding, if oddly reminiscent of the score from The Thing, soundtrack from Alexandre Desplat. It’s written by Abi Morgan, who wrote Shame and The Iron Lady, and directed by Sarah Gavron, which appropriately means the film has a strong female duo behind it.

Overall, it’s a good, not boring, but over dramatised film, that has a great message, and enough heart to be winning, whilst the performances are strong, and the style fantastic.

Rating: B-  6/10

In Hollywood, the debate rages on about unequal pay, Actors getting more than Actresses, but as more people like Jennifer Lawrence and Cate Blanchett continue to influence with their position of power, then we are slowly reaching a better place of equality. I strongly believe in equality for all, and as long as there are films being made by women, with the intention of informing the general public about the struggles of women everywhere, then we have made steps forward.


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