I’ll admit that my knowledge of suffragettes and women getting the vote probably only goes as far as my memories of watching Mary Poppins as a child. This is an important part of history so I suppose I needed to see this film however if I’m honest I didn’t really have much desire too. After watching Graham Norton’s interview with Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan my interested was sparked slightly, it gave me the push to get me to the cinema.
Suffragette unfortunately has a shaky start, struggling to find its feet straight away. For the first half of the film I didn’t really feel sympathy for the characters in the way I know I should have. In between the more dramatic moments I was fairly bored as well, I think more needed to be done in they way of character development. Thankfully things improve as the film proceeds. The second half of the film is much more confident and entertaining. This was a result of more drama, and I can recall three scenes especially that are done very well drawing out of me the sympathy that the earlier moments had failed to do. Suffragette has a fantastic cast including Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Brendan Gleeson and Ben Whishaw. All are fantastic in their own way. Mulligan wonderfully carries the film and channels her characters feelings very well. Bonham Carter is playing a refreshingly more normal character once again showing her versitility as an actresses. Gleeson adds layers to a character that could have been fairly one dimensional and the same can be said for Whishaw. Both actors contribute well to this female dominated cast.
As you probably know Meryl Streep stars in the film too, she plays the leader of the suffragette movement Emmeline Pankhurst. However I don’t exaggerate when I say that she is only in one scene of this movie. This was a real shame especially due to the fact that Streep is playing her. More should have been done here, wasted potential in my opinion. A similar thing can be said for the film as a whole. I can’t stress enough that this film is a snapshot at the suffragette movement and it doesn’t tell the whole story. I feel the promotion for the movie has been a bit misleading, to me it gave the impression that it would tell a complete story and Streep would play at least a supporting role and it’s unfortunate that neither of these transpire to the screen. In my opinion though the biggest problem with Suffragette is a wrong focus. Emmeline Pankhurst or some of the other characters in the film would have worked better as the main character which would have resulted in a much more accomplished film, leaving the viewer feeling more informed. Instead we are given the view of a character within the movement and whilst Mulligan is fantastic in the role I just don’t think it’s a role that can tell this amazing story in the best way.
Suffragette has several problems, it’s slow to really get into gear and it never seems to tell a whole story. The promotion for the film is quite misleading too, although I don’t mind too much as the performances here are wonderful. Helena Bonham Carter stood out amongst a host of great performances. The second half of the film vastly improves on the first but in the end I can’t help but feel that Suffragette is a wasted opportunity.
Rating – 6/10