Director: Sarah Gavron
Writer: Abi Morgan
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Anne-Marie Duff, Helena Bonham Carter, Romola Garai, Grace Stottor, Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson, Meryl Streep
Seen on: 09.02.2016
Maud (Carey Mulligan) has spent more or less her entire life working as a washer woman in a factory. Quite to the contrary to her co-worker Violet (Anne-Marie Duff), Maud is trying to keep her head down. Violet, on the other hand, is a passionate suffragette, fighting for women’s rights. But the longer Maud hears about this fight, the more she finds herself drawn to it, slowly stumbling into the movement until she herself has to make some hard choices about her life.
The reactions to Suffragette I encountered so far were lukewarm at best – and I’m the next person with that reaction to add to the list. It’s not really a bad film, but it isn’t very good, either.
Already before the film came out, much was made of the fact that the film is incredibly white. And that is certainly true. The only time we see a person who isn’t white in the entire film is when they show actual historic footage of the marches at the end of the film. Which is insulting and racist and there’s no way around it. (I won’t get into the marketing fail for the film, but you can read about it here.) Even if the majority of women in the suffragette struggle had been white, that doesn’t mean that a) all of London was so we would never see anybody non-white in the background and b) that this has to be the point where the film couldn’t possibly deviate from history and include a fictional woman of color, even if only for a scene.
Instead they chose to invent a whole slew of characters and focus on the blandest of them all. I thought it was great that we got a working class heroine. I love Carey Mulligan. Maud’s radicalization was very well done. But Maud herself didn’t really have a personality to speak of. Although big things happened around and to her, she herself never became a big person. Ultimately that meant that she as pretty boring to watch.
The cast wasn’t bad and they tried to pack a lot into the film, though not always very effectively. In any case I never really connected with the film, the characters or the story a whole lot.
Suffragette is a film that should have made me happy with its focus on women and feminism. I wanted to leave it pumped, cathartically experiencing some of Maud’s radicalization (as if I still had much room left for that). But there is never enough energy in it to draw you in and pull you along. And without that, the film starts to drag.