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Suffragette

26 May

At the turn of the twentieth century, many women in England are frustrated at being constantly “invisible” or identified as only “his daughter …” or “his wife …” They see that their lives can be different – particularly if they’re allowed to vote – and many feel strongly enough to take action against the “establishment”. Maud Watts (played by Carey Mulligan) is one such woman. She’s been to the same workhouse every day since she was a child at her mother’s skirts. At thirteen, she started working there herself and she’s put up with constant sexual harassment by her cruel boss ever since. Women learn to “keep quiet and stay in their place”. Emmeline Pankhurst (by Meryl Streep), emerges as a leader of this ripple of discontent as women across the country start to publicly protest so the government will take notice of them. The “women’s suffrage” movement grows – women take part in secret, while men view the whole thing with disdain. Along with others from the area, Maud becomes a disciple of the women’s movement. She faces police brutality when she’s jailed and shame from her husband Sonny, (by Ben Whishaw) as he disowns her for taking a stand – isolating her from her son George (by Adam Michael Dodd). But she strongly believes in her quest for equality and “votes for women”. This story is based on true events during the early days of the feminist movement in England and demonstrates the lengths some women are prepared to go for the cause …

This is an effective and moving drama. As Maud, Carey Mulligan portrays the emotions and challenges of women’s lives during these turbulent times. She cares deeply for her son but the demand for women’s rights cuts deep too, so she struggles with her conflicting emotions and instincts. The hardship of their lives is clear and the ignorant hatred many (including women) in the community have for the suffragettes is palpable. The movie features several strong and entertaining performances – it’s great to see Helena Bonham Carter in the key role of Edith Ellyn. A particularly influential character at the time, she is very well supported here by her husband Hugh (by Finbar Lynch). The story features all the aspects of a good drama – high emotion, deep principles, poverty, hunger strikes, secrets, violence, sexual tension and political intrigue – all told well in a very watchable movie. It reaches its climax when the Suffragettes plan to take non-violent action at a race meeting. Here, the real life drama of 1913 plays out – when 40 year old Emily Davison (by Natalie Press) is tragically and inexplicably struck down by the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby. The movie has won several awards for best actor, supporting actors and characterisations.

Made in 2015. Directed by Sarah Gavron.

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Posted by on May 26, 2016 in Movies

 

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