Kyle J. Steenblik

Suffragette is an Eloquent Look at the Long Hard Fight for Women’s Equality

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Directed by: Sarah Gavron
Written by: Abi Morgan
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Brendan Gleeson, Anne-Marie Duff, Ben Whishaw, Meryl Streep
Running time 106 minutes
Rated PG-13 for some intense violence, thematic elements, brief strong language and partial nudity

4 stars out of 5
A drama that tracks the story of the foot soldiers of the early feminist movement, women who were forced underground to pursue a dangerous game of cat and mouse with an increasingly brutal State. These women were not primarily from the genteel educated classes, they were working women who had seen peaceful protest achieve nothing. Radicalized and turning to violence as the only route to change, they were willing to lose everything in their fight for equality – their jobs, their homes, their children and their lives. Maud was one such foot soldier. The story of her fight for dignity is as gripping and visceral as any thriller, it is also heart-breaking and inspirational. – Courtesy Focus Features

Suffragette is a determined and deliberate film, quiet and insistent.  Bursting at the seams with spectacular performances, particularly that of Carey Mulligan as Maud Watts.  Watts, a fictional heroine in a sea of historical heroines, served as a lens through which we see the Suffrage movement from an impoverished working woman.  Mulligan embodied this and stepped through the story with great reluctant as she was involuntarily enveloped, until she was at the forefront of the movement.  Mulligan’s performance was altogether heartbreaking, she made the perfect sympathetic hero beset upon by injustice and cruelty.

The story was steadily paced, and the filming was understated, while it took chances with some key dynamic camerawork to heighten the dramatic effect of key scenes.  As a whole, it was wonderful to watch, and I was quite pleased with the decisions director Sarah Gavron made in telling the story.  Never dwelling overly long on any one moment, while simultaneously not shying away from some of the more brutal and violent events.  She showed precisely enough, for long enough, to make the audience feel, without driving them away, something that takes skill and talent to accomplish.

Films should mean something; they should take hold of a concept larger then itself, magnify it, and show the audience a truth they may have forgotten.  If they do not pose the question directly, they should lead the audience to the gates and invite them through.  Suffragette is one such film, in watching a story unfold that is very nearly 100 years old, the resonating ripples in time are amplified, reminding us of how far we have walked.  I was reminded of how much strength and courage it takes to stand against injustice, to hold your ground against intolerance and fear.  I walked away feeling quite inspired, even a touch guilty for having taken for granted the world in which I live, and the rights I never had to defend.  Sometimes films are made to entertain us, to distract us from the stress of life, sometimes there meaning in the celluloid.  This film resonates, and even manages to entertain while illuminating, making it wholly worthwhile.

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