BFI London Film Festival: Suffragette

Directed by Sarah Gavron
Written by Abi Morgan
Starring Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne-Marie Duff, Brendan Gleeson, Ben Whishaw and Meryl Streep

Suffragette is a hugely important and relevant story, but bleak and hollow in its execution.

A movie made by women to highlight the struggles of inequality that women have gone through to get the vote in the UK, and continue to go through in modern society, Suffragette should have focused on the star players of this movement such as Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep) or Emily Davison (Natalie Press). Instead, the film focuses on Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan) in what feels like a manufactured role whose purpose is to work as Oscar bait come awards season.  While Maud is the focus, larger characters in the movement such as Davison and Pankhurst are reduced to a bit part and cameo appearance respectively.  It’s hard to get on Maud’s side as Mulligan is a very meek actress, and while I feel empathy for the movement of the Suffragettes, I never feel the same way for the plight of Maud.

With bleak cinematography to accompany the contrived plotline, this film never fulfills its potential to tell the amazing story of how a group of strong women fought for us all, to allow women to lead the free lives they do today.  In spite of not being a greatly realized film, what Suffragette should be proud of is helping to reignite a movement that is still relevant today.  For example, the BFI London Film Festival gala screening of the film sparked a protest from Sisters Uncut, a feminist group who stand against domestic violence.

The spirit of the Suffragette movement is alive through this film’s existence, but it’s a true shame that we don’t have a better depiction of this important story and era.


Our interviews and coverage from the Suffragette Opening Gala at the 59th BFI London Film Festival.

Leave a Reply