Why aren't more people talking about this movie? Suffragette was released in the UK all the way back in October, the US release date a few weeks later. It's a film I think I saw the trailer for once and while I liked what I saw, it never stuck with me. Nobody seemed to be interested in this movie, and the box office report shows that. What I don't understand is why this is the case. Suffragette, while no masterpiece, deserves to be seen. It's an important film that deserves an audience, and hopefully some Australians go out and see it now that the film is released here.
Suffragette follows the story of a woman named Maud (Carey Mulligan). She's in the lower class and married to a man named Sonny (Ben Whishaw). She overworks at a factory with an abusive boss and barely gets enough money to support her child. So, she takes a stand. Maud, who has never been verbal about the injustices towards women, joins a group of suffragettes, led by the mysterious Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep), who is constantly in hiding. Maud, along with the rest of the suffragettes, begins to rebel against the government, attempting to give woman more rights. To do this, they decide to use actions, rather than words, and they're heard, the government sending out officers, led by Inspector Arthur Steed (Brendan Gleeson), to put a stop to the whole thing.
Month in and month out, 2015 has given us plenty of movies with empowering roles for women. Most of the year's best films (Star Wars, Mad Max, Inside Out) have had a female lead. In this final lot of releases for 2015, Suffragette comes along to add something else. It comes to put the cherry on this cake. It's no where near being the best movie of the year, that still goes to Star Wars unless Joy somehow manages to top it tonight (trust me, it won't), but it's powerful and it's important.
Leading the film is Cary Mulligan, who is contractually obligated to only be in period films for the rest of her life apparently. Suffragette is far from her best movie, that belongs to either Inside Llewyn Davis or Drive, but her performance here is great. It's an ideal role for her and maybe that's why she does such a great job, but whatever the reasoning is, she's excellent. Her performance is emotional and uplifting, brimming with life and giving depth to this character.
The film's supporting cast are all a-listers, including the likes of Helena Bonham Carter and Brendan Gleeson. Also in the film is Meryl Streep, who appears on all the posters and in all the advertising material. Why? Because she's Meryl Streep. Is she in the film? Technically, but just for one scene. Her performance, like every performance she's given in her entire life, is great, but her character isn't given nearly enough screen time. She's there, she got people in the theatre, she said a speech and then she left. She's built up to be this influential figure and yet this build up is for nothing.
In terms of plot, there's not a lot of it. It's a film severely lacking in story, the film a series of tragic events followed by a series of uplifting ones and then once again followed by a series of tragic ones. The aim of the film is to show the hard times that women went through, but there's no actual plot. That would work well as a theme, yes, but not the overall plot. It feels more like a biographical book than anything, and that's far from a compliment. Plus, the ending? Yeah, there isn't one. This film didn't end. It just faded to white. I guess that's what happens when you forget to give your movie a plot.
To sum up, Suffragette is an important and relevant movie that adds to the 2015 catalogue of strong female characters in film. It's not the best film on a technical scale, the plot completely non-existant, but it is one that's worth watching.
3 1/2 Stars