Saturday, November 21, 2015
Suffragette *** (2015)
As a historical film, Suffragette supplies a healthy dose of reality to offset the formulaic trappings that often come with period pieces. The acting and direction are understated much to the film's benefit, reminiscent of Selma from last year. Carey Mulligan stars as Maud Watts, a young working class woman who develops a political awakening and ends up involved in the Suffrage Movement. Set in 1912, Suffragette effectively depicts the harsh conditions in the textile factories, employed mainly by women, with men in positions of power. Female workers were paid low wages with no chance of advancement. The Suffragettes petitioned for voting rights, seeing the power of the ballot as the key to achieving reform for working class women. Facing the usual resistance from the establishment, the Suffragettes did resort to violence to achieve their aims (one even attacked Winston Churchill with a whip). Mulligan's honest performance as a strong, unassuming heroine carries the film. Ben Whishaw plays her husband who is unable to cope with with his wife joining the movement. My main criticism is the film's tendency to oversimplify the issues. Everything unfolds a bit too neatly. Directed by Sarah Gavron and written by Abi Morgan, Suffragette is clear in its message: real change requires taking a brave stand in the face of intimidating adversity.