Suffragette

Film
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(22user reviews)
Suffragette

Nearly 100 years after smashing shop windows and blowing up letterboxes, the British suffragettes finally get a film they deserve. And thank god it’s not a pretty-pretty sugarcoated period drama. Writer Abi Morgan ('Shame', 'The Iron Lady') and director Sarah Gavron's ('Brick Lane') tough, raw, bleak-looking film makes the suffragettes' dilemma feel immediate and real. You feel the knife-edge danger of women risking everything: sacked from their jobs, locked up in prison, force fed, separated from their children. But if not, them, who?

Carey Mulligan is Maud, an east London laundry worker in 1912 who’s always done as she’s told. Maud is 24 but her face is exhausted and lined from years sweating over dirty clothes. She’s married to decent but conservative Sonny (Ben Whishaw, reliably superb), who keeps his head down and salutes a portrait of the King every morning. The couple have a young son. What difference would fighting for the vote mean to Maud? She’s not Emmeline Pankhurst – she’ll never be written about in history books. Why take the risk?

Over an hour or so, we see exactly why. Maud is doubly shafted by the system: because she’s poor and because she’s a woman. In the laundry, it’s a dirty open secret that the boss is a serial sex offender; he’s moved on from Maud to a younger girl. Everyone knows what he’s up to, but shockingly it’s Maud who is now less ‘respectable’ for having been his victim. Will the vote change that? No, but it's a start.

It’s a tremendous, awards-worthy performance from Mulligan. The film plays out in her eyes. You see the emotion flicker in her face as Maud wakes up and finds her voice. The rest of the cast is excellent too – including Anne-Marie Duff as a gobby suffragette working in the laundry and Helena Bonham Carter as a pharmacist cooking up homemade bombs. Meryl Streep makes a brief cameo as Emmeline Pankhurst, wanted by the police but popping up to rally the troops from a London balcony. It’s perfect casting – Streep sprinkling stardust as Mrs P awes her followers

On the sidelines, there are male suffragettes and women-hating men: ‘The police are bringing these bitches to their knees,’ snarls one, sounding every bit like a Twitter troll. And the film has a point too about the people-pleasing impulse still drummed into little girls a century later: don’t make trouble, avoid attention, be a good girl. But as Mrs Pankhurst says in her balcony speech: better to be a rebel than a slave.

By: Cath Clarke

Posted:

Release details

Release date: Monday October 12 2015
Duration: 106 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Sarah Gavron
Screenwriter: Abi Morgan
Cast: Helena Bonham Carter
Meryl Streep
Carey Mulligan

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:5
  • 4 star:12
  • 3 star:5
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|22
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1 of 1 found helpful
Tastemaker

A very hard-hitting film. Carey Mulligan puts in a fantastic performance as Maud, a washer woman from Bethnall Green who turns suffragette. The film doesn't hide the reality of what life was like for women then, and poignantly reminds us in the closing credits that there are many countries where women still do not have the vote. The cinematography was stunning, with London rendered to misty, dirty perfection. A must-watch that left me inspired and reaching for the tissues!

1 of 1 found helpful
Tastemaker

Such a powerful, moving and ultimately deeply inspiring film. Great acting all round, but it's Anne Marie-Duff and Carey Mulligan who really come into their own with powerhouse performances. The way Carey Mulligan is forced to choose between her family and fighting for the right to vote is truly heart-wrenching to watch. 


A stirring, much-needed reminder of just how much was sacrificed in the struggle for women's rights, and just how violent the struggle became.

1 of 1 found helpful
Tastemaker

Who didn't get chills watching the trailer for this movie? These women definitely deserved a movie like this that tells their story accordingly. It is also a very good time to see this movie as there is a whole wave of feminist movement happening at the moment, it's very interesting to see how lithe people respected females not so long ago and what they had to do to get what they deserved. The only complaint I had about this movie is that I felt like it was very short and ended rather abruptly, I would've preferred to actually see the vote being given rather that just read about it.

1 of 1 found helpful
Tastemaker

Such an inspiring and powerful story to be told. This movie follows the lives of a group of Suffragettes from east London, with Carey Mulligan as the main character. Helena Bonham Carter was a stand out and Carey Mulligan was wonderful as always. I thought the whole movie was very well done. My only complaint would be that the style of filming was very up close and frantic and was sometimes a bit hard to follow. What was especially interesting to see was the timeline at the end of the movie showing when women in various countries got the right to vote.

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Tastemaker

I found the film incredibly moving and left feeling proud to be a woman. Yes, it was a little Hollywood-esque, bit that didn't detract from it. Carey Mulligan and Ben Wishaw we're brilliant as ever. I would have liked to see a little more of Meryl Streep (minus the dodgy British accent) and Emmeline Pankhurst's story, but I love that it was through the eyes of an unknown woman. The only downside was the low lighting and handheld camera, yes it adds to the ambience, but it was a tad irritating. All in all, a great movie - the people in the cinema even gave a round of applause at the end!

1 of 1 found helpful

A powerful, memorable film that left us lost for words leaving the cinema.  How our society seems to have changed. It is hard to imagine how we would be after WWI.  This was a transition time.  Women had played their part in warfare and armament production but were then asked to go back into "service".  Most refused, holing the aristocracy below the waterline.  But still the male attitude needed to change.  The dilemma placed in front of men is well portrayed in this film.  The actual newsreel film at the end showed just how many ordinary men became affected by the inevitable sacrifice that the government were trying so hard to avoid.


An excellent film that hopefully will be shown in all schools.  Suffrage.....we take it for granted.

1 of 1 found helpful
Tastemaker

Nowadays we never think what women had to do in order to be able to vote. It's a fundamental right that we give for granted, to the extent that people don't even bother voting anymore. 


This film is important. It might not have the most coherent script but it has impact and gives a very strong image of what was going on back then, and that needs to be reminded to all of us. Mulligan's performance is impeccable, and I loved the cast in general. Another thing that I really liked was seeing London, our London, during her hard times and foggy days.


Everyone should watch this film! Women are still struggling around the world and we have to keep fighting,


1 of 1 found helpful
Tastemaker

I always remember learning about the Suffragettes and their struggle at school and I keep in mind whatever we may think about our government and our political system, we, as women must always vote and be active participants in this way and be thankful for the work and suffering of the women before us that paved the way for this essential, but overlooked, basic right we now take for granted.


But then somehow we, as a society, forgot to talk about it....how has this happened? Especially since we're still struggling with equality, in the work place (reflected in pay and positions of women), with home life (division of labour and child-care) and in society in general. So the fact that this film has made it into the mainstream, including a much publicised premier, and perhaps brings to light some forgotten history to a whole new generation of women and men, already earns it several stars. The fact that the film is really rather good too helps the case.


Mulligan plays the main character Maud to great effect, drawing you in right from the very first scene and tying the whole story together well. London is presented in all it's smoggy, dingy, beautiful glory. It's moving, difficult at times and very emotional. It's true to say that the film skips over quite a lot of detail, you really do need to do some serious googling afterwards to learn the full history. But I think using a fictional lead to show a snapshot in history is clever and works well (though I believe most viewers really care about Maud's plight and her difficulties by the end) and if it means its audience leave the cinema with a curiosity to learn more about The Suffragette Movement, then, in my opinion, it's done a great job.


As an historical drama, with a strong script and captivating story, it gets my vote.


p.s. Don't forget to stay after credits start to role and see the facts about voting rights for women across the world, you may well be surprised!

1 of 1 found helpful
Tastemaker

Very stirring and well-performed, if let down slightly in places by Abi Morgan's script.  Keeping the story to a rather anonymous "Suffragette" rather than focusing on Emmeline Pankhurst etc works well and when sections from history do appear (such as Emily Davison's death) it adds an extra power.  Carey Mulligan is excellent as ever, easily one of the best actors working today.

1 of 1 found helpful
Tastemaker

Amazingly emotional acting in a very important film: it is unfortunately a little bit preachy and ‘Hollywood-like’. Still, makes for an entertaining, as well as significant, feature and you’ll leave the cinema with an urgent drive for transformation. So much of what’s portrayed in it seems so absurd nowadays; and yet, there is so much to change still...

1 of 1 found helpful
moderatorStaff Writer

A stunning film, with an incredible performance from Carey Mulligan. It's a powerful piece of cinema which needs to be seen.

1 of 1 found helpful
Tastemaker

From the very beginning th film conveys importance and atmosphere.

The performances are really impressive and the range of issues that made up the suffragette movement are well covered. I was totally absorbed and moved. It is for me a 'must see' for everyone - people need to know how their rights came to be and how 'the state' closes in to suffocate change because of its fear.

It's obviously a difficult and often disturbing watch but that's the point.

tastemaker

A stunning performance by Carey Mulligan and an incredibly important topic. We found ourselves better educated on women’s rights pre WW1, prompting many internet searches about the characters in the film and key dates of progress towards equality. Although Carey’s particular character is fictional, the women around her are not. The film serves a stark reminder of the limits placed on women for many years and the unfair treatment of women based on gender alone. The end of the film is incredibly powerful when a roll of countries displays when women got the vote - Switzerland was one of the last which really surprised us. This is an important film for all to watch, it is captivating and full of frustration.

Tastemaker

Brilliant film documenting the journey of Maud (played by Carey Mulligan). I cried at points, life was just so unfair for women in those days. The film doesn't shy away from shining a spotlight on this. They weren't just fighting for the vote, they wanted to be heard. Watch it! 


Really enjoyed the movie. Carey Mulligan puts in a fantastic performance as Maud & you can see every emotion in her face. More movies should be made about this time in history, when women were seen as so far beneath men that they didn't get a say in not only their lives, but the lives of the children they gave life to. As the movie portrays, when laws are made by only one gender, then the laws will only help half of the worlds population & exclude the other half. It's been along time since I've witness the audience clapping as the movie ended & sitting watching all the credits before leaving.


Very good, perfectly pitched performances from all and the story is delivered with maximum emotional impact. I pretty much wept non stop from the middle to the end. Please do go see it.


A powerful story, well told. A fine cast and an interesting period setting. Three and a half stars.

0 of 1 found helpful
Tastemaker

Featuring an excellent cast of some of the UK's top leading ladies (and Ben Whishaw) this is a quality drama reflecting a turbulent chapter in our social history. Incredible to think these events happened in relatively recent times. Some of the scenes were genuinely shocking & you can't fail to be moved by the women's determination & personal sacrifices. The timeline of countries at the end & when they allowed female voting rights was both surprising & enlightening.

0 of 1 found helpful

Standard biopic, some commendable performances but ultimately rather average.

0 of 1 found helpful
Tastemaker

A very powerful film which is only achieved by the amazing acting of the main cast- Helena and Carey are stunning . The visual is very cleverly understated and make the film feel so real. My heart broke watching Maude's story play out with her husband and son and I'm still not sure if I hate or respect the Police Detective.


The ending is beautiful and powerful , an important part of our history brought to life but I can't help thinking they could have done more with the story and developed the other character's stories. At times it is too focused on Maude- a very safe film in the end?

0 of 1 found helpful

I wanted to like this film so much, and given how much publicity it's had/strong reviews/etc, I was looking forward to seeing it.

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But, in places I found the script a bit clunky, and the storyline wasn't always coherent.  I thought Anne-Marie Duff, Helena Bonham Carter, and Meryl Streep all very well cast.  But I thought both Ben Wishaw and Carey Mulligan's cockney accents very laboured and distracting, and - given their leading roles - their lines didn't always seem appropriate:  The adoption scene was badly acted throughout.

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Not bad, but had the potential to be so much better.  Three stars.  Not a four star movie - so definitely won't sweep the boards at the Oscars.

0 of 1 found helpful
tastemaker

An important film, but not a great one. Important because everyone needs to be reminded of the fight for votes.

Carey Mulligan is Maud, and is excellent, my only problem is the background to her part, she lost her mother at 4, never knew her father, started work at 7, yet she is able to read, write and articulate enough to communicate with the toffs of the day (just a little hard to believe).