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'Suffragette' gets lost with good intentions
Anne-Marie Duff and Carey Mulligan in Suffragette (2015) - photo by Travis Poppleton
HOLLYWOOD The Sarah Gavin directed history piece, Suffragette, is slowly sneaking its way into theaters around the country.

Led by the always intriguing Carey Mulligan (Inside Llewyn Davis, The Great Gatsby), Suffragette follows a small group of women involved in what eventually became a violent movement for womens rights in and around London during the early 1900s. Suffragette weaves fiction through historical events, leading up to the famous 1913 death of Emily Wilding Davison a moment many consider a key turning point for the movement.

As always, lets talk about the highlights:

The Cause

If theres one area Suffragette shines, its in the films ability to illustrate the high price of change.

Suffragette follows the fictional Maud Watts (Mulligan) whose narrative probably represents pieces of many stories throughout the movement. While writer Abi Morgan introduces key characters to act as opposition to both the movement and Maud, oftentimes the movies villains are those who look the other way throughout Mauds plight.

Morgan also includes moments which ultimately question suffragette tactics, leaving audiences to decide if violence is a necessary means for justice.

The Cast

The amount of talent parading around on-screen throughout this film is impressive, to say the least. Mulligans performance feels right at home alongside academy award winners and nominees like Meryl Streep and Helena Bonham Carter, and Brendan Gleesons Inspector Steed balances well-intentioned antagonism while never flirting with comic book villainy. The people who dislike Suffragette will not be pointing to performances as a reason the film never quite does its message justice.

The Problem

There are so many things working for Suffragette that it will be difficult to figure out why youre checking your watch so often during a reasonably short 106-minute running time.

The performances are there, its handsomely shot, and the moments that should make you tear up or cheer are all in place. So what is it about Suffragette that doesnt work?

Like many historical dramas, Gavron and Morgan get lost in trying to capture everything about the history as opposed to finding a story that celebrates the history. As a result, conversations that should be sweet or heartfelt turn into exposition and relationships you should care about are only brought up to remind you of another injustice.


There is definitely more right than wrong with Suffragette, but unfortunately, this is also a case where perhaps the creative team respected the material too much. Suffragette, then, ends up in a bizarre position where its easy to call it a good film but a hard one to recommend.
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