★★★★☆- The time has come for the suffragettes to receive the recognition they deserve, as the struggles of the British women’s sufferage movement are finally brought to the big screen with this hard hitting, empowering film.
STARRING– Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan, Ben Whishaw, Anne Marie- Duff, Romola Garai, Brendan Gleeson
RUNNING TIME– 106 minutes
Suffragette is a story of emotion, truth and sacrifice intended to open our generation’s eyes to the influential impact suffragette’s had on the course of history and how their determination to make a difference has benefited us today. It does not shy away from the truth, with many distressing essential scenes in order for the audience to fully understand the struggles these women went through.
Carey Mulligan plays Maud Watts a devoted mother, and a tireless worker in a life- and soul-destroying laundry in Bethnal Green which is run by an abusive boss. Delivering a package into the West End in 1912, she becomes caught up in a protest during which Suffragettes throw rocks through the windows of department stores in Central London. She recognises one of these protesters as the new worker at the laundry- Violet.
Violet notices the curiosity of Maud, and soon Maud is seduced into the idea of having control of her own destiny, despite the effect that it could have on her small family. At first, Maud does not commit herself to the idea of being a Suffragette, but she is soon forced to declare her testimony for women’s votes as Violet is suddenly unable to do so.
Following a powerful testimony, Maud is entranced by the dedication, enthusiasm and commitment of the suffragettes and decides that she too wants to make a difference by fighting for equality for women.
However, this commitment does not come without sacrifice. After getting arrested for getting involved in a dramatic protest against the government’s choice to not allow the vote for women, Maud returns to her normal life where neighbours now frown upon her, men shout abuse and her co workers whisper all around her. Above all, her husband is disgusted by her arrest which has brought shame on the whole family, demanding that she must never take part in the movement again.
Maud obeys her husband until she hears the leader of the suffragette movement Emmeline Pankhurst (played by Meryl Streep) will be making a speech, and once again her curiosity defines her actions. Alongside the other local suffragettes Violet, Edith and Emily, Maud arrives at a secret location to hear the inspirational words of Pankhurst.
The words of Pankhurst are cut short by the police, who are trying to do everything in their power to stop the suffragette movement but not before Pankhurst directly speaks to Maud “Never surrender, never give up the fight”. This moment becomes the turning point of the film, no longer does Maud hesitate to fight back but instead she acts like a true suffragette on a mission to change the law.
However, this is not an attitude accepted by many, especially not her husband. The shame and disgrace forced upon the family leads him to disown Maud, meaning she is no longer able to see her beloved son, George.
This emotional struggle combined with more suffragette rebellion leads up to the hard hitting and dramatic ending. The suffragettes powered by anger, bitterness and frustration, want to make the world listen, they want the world to notice their fight for equality, so do to that they must present themselves in front of the world in a way which will get them noticed. The emotional sacrifice which ends the film, highlights the key message of the suffrage movement, “The time is now” because if they didn’t act back then, would we have acted now?
The story of women fighting for the right to vote is all too recent, and for some, all too forgotten. For this reason, every woman and girl should see this beautiful film, a credit to the film makers, so they can appreciate the impact of these ordinary women and realise that they too can make a difference. Too often, women are told they are incapable, unworthy and weak but this film proves that women can make a difference, not only a difference to their own lives but to the lives of future generations. We, as women, can fight back, we can make a difference and hopefully this film will inspire everyone to do just that, to “never surrender, to never give up the fight”.