By Christian DiMartino
Sarah Gavron’s Suffragette is a great looking, well-acted, and well meaning, so it’s a damn shame that it never seems to come to life. Here is a film that demands your attention and wants to change the world, but yet never really takes liftoff.
Remember when women didn’t have the right to vote? No? Oh yeah, that’s right, it was like 100 years ago. But that is the basis for the film at hand. Carey Mulligan gives one of her best performances as Maude, a woman who joins a group of women in the fight to get their voices heard.It should go without saying that this wasn’t exactly smooth sailing, as they were constantly arrested and tormented. But that didn’t stand in their way.
To round out the cast, we have Ben Wishaw as Maude’s husband. He’s pretty good in the role, as expected, but yet his character never really clicked with me. He seems like he’s pretty in love with her one minute, and then the next he abandons her and, at one point, makes her life hell. Maybe I would’ve had to have been there. Helena Bonham Carter seems kind of like a waste as a fellow member of the suffragettes. And speaking of a waste, the legendary Meryl Streep shows up for two minutes. She gives a speech, and then vanishes, probably because she can.
The story the film tells is a good one, for sure, and an important history lesson, but yet it all just felt un-spectacular. While there are things to admire here, mostly mentioned in the first paragraph, they’re dragged down by the flaws. The film is unfortunately safe, dull, corny, and kind of slow. “Never give up the fight!” The heroines of this story yell throughout. I never gave up the fight to stay awake, but the struggle was certainly real.
The surprising thing about Suffragette though is the fact that, by the end, I was left untouched. When you see a film like this, it’s supposed to hit you where it hurts. It’s supposed to provoke thought, and effect us, and yet, this film doesn’t really do either of those. Perhaps the film might’ve been more captivating had they not played it so safe. Had they thrown in a bit more danger. The most dangerous scene comes near the very end, and to be perfectly honest, I laughed at the poor execution. I don’t think that’s what Gavron was going for.
Basically what I’m saying is that a story like this should’ve been handled better. Maybe I’m wrong. This film worked for a lot of people. I do admit that there are certain things that are easy to admire here. But as far as enjoying it goes, that’s a much more difficult sell.