What on Earth did Suffragette do wrong? Why is it that a film about one of the most important moments in women’s history doesn’t interest any women I know? Could it be that they’re turned off by films like this, that seem to shamelessly pander to them as much as they pander to the Academy Awards? Or could it be something a lot simpler, the fact that the trailers simply didn’t make the film look very good?
Set in the early 1900’s, Suffragette is the story of the fight for women’s rights, most notably the right to vote, and the escalation in tactics they used to try to get the attention their cause deserved. It also follows the lawmen who were trying to keep them in line, even if in some cases they were sympathetic to the suffragette’s cause.
I have to get something out-of-the-way. If (and when) Meryl Streep gets an Oscar nomination for this, I will be very annoyed. It sounds like a perfect match, Streep playing Emmeline Pankhurst, possibly the most important figure in the suffragette movement. It has awards written all over it, but it really shouldn’t. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen all of her scene (yes, scene, not scenes). She’s fine in the role, but it’s really not noteworthy.
In fact, fine but really not noteworthy pretty much describes this whole film. There are some decent emotional moments, but they don’t come close to doing the true events justice. The visuals are all nice, the period was recreated pretty well, but there was no significant stylistic choices. I’m really struggling to think of what else to comment on, because so little of the film has left an impression on me, something this film should have done. Also, after speaking to a number of people who are better informed on this subject than I am, this film seemingly fails to accurately portray these events, or even the social setting of the suffragette movement.
There is one more, quite damning thing I have to say about Suffragette. There were two positives I came away from this film feeling , and that was the performances of Ben Whishaw and Brendan Gleeson. While I do think it’s more important for a film to be good as a film, and not an important piece of social commentary, I’m pretty sure that coming away from a film called Suffragette talking about the two male actors wasn’t exactly what they had in mind.
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