Suffragette Review

“The idea always repeated in social movements such as the one depicted is that the movement is always bigger than a single person; it’s just a shame that Suffragette seems to forget this.”

I love movies that are based on real life events because I get to learn while enjoying a movie. Of course documentaries accomplish the same things, but I usually find that documentaries are harder to make engaging compared to a proper narrative film. Suffragette is the latest of such films that I watched, but unfortunately I was underwhelmed. Suffragette is about the suffragette movement in 20th-century Britain. The film follows wife and mother, Maud Watts, as she grows increasingly involved with the movement that is trying to earn women the right to vote.

Before I start I want to point out that I love the message behind this film. I think it is important for people to see the struggles that occurred not too long ago, and the suffragette movement is one of them. That being said, I will not blindly give this film a high rating simply because of its subject matter, when I did think that there were glaring issues with it.

First of all, I thought the film was very well made. I enjoy period-piece films and this one was pretty great. All of the costumes were immaculate, and the set design really dragged you into this world. The acting was also great. Carey Mulligan leads the film and her acting was good, showing the inner struggle that her character was facing throughout the film. Helena Bonham Carter was also there giving a performance. In all seriousness Bonham Carter’s performance was alright, with moments of brilliance again showing her characters struggle. And of course there are a slew of other characters, each one doing a good job in their own right. one thing I will say is to not trust the list of actors for this film. Yes, Meryl Streep is in it, but if you don’t count a picture of her as an appearance her total screen time is probably less than five minutes. It was a good five minutes, but this is hardly a Meryl Streep film. I also really enjoyed the camerawork and the score of the film.

As for the story, this is where the movie fell apart for me. Just to be clear, Suffragette features many scenes that make your stomach turn. The way that these scenes are presented are beautifully effective, and it is one of the reasons that I think the message of this film is so important. That being said, I feel that Suffragette kind of lost its plot about halfway through. See, the film was presented as the story of the suffragette movement, and we barely got any of that. Really it was the story of Maud Watts, and the fact that she was a suffragette was incidental. Yes the film showed all of these bad things happening to women, but quite a few things that happen to the main character don’t have much to do with the movement itself. They are more like consequences for her joining the suffragettes, but they aren’t grounded in reality for me. I could write a story about a suffragette being in a hurricane. Sure it would be a sad story, but does it matter what she stands for? I would have preferred a more broad look at the movement, showing characters more involved into movement itself. We see glimpses of this throughout the film, but ultimately we are left with nothing.

Because of this structure, the pacing of the film is kind of fucked. Instead of focusing on the movement, we first have to learn about a character. Then when the character learns about the movement, all at once shit starts falling apart in her life. Like I said, we see glimpses of more impactful stories, so why we are following Maud is beyond me. Then the film ends with a grand gesture, by a character that I hardly know. The scene plays out like nothing came of it, but then the next scene shows it being national headlines. Of course, I’m dancing around it because it is technically a spoiler, but it just didn’t make sense to me. It just seems like the film couldn’t decide if it wanted to make a film about the suffragette movement, or a drama about a single character. The idea always repeated in social movements such as the one depicted is that the movement is always bigger than a single person; t’s just a shame that Suffragette seems to forget this.

Ultimately Suffragette is a film with its heart in the right place, but in its execution creates a boring, confusing mess. The film is well done on a technical aspect, but the story misses the mark.

I give Suffragette a C

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