Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan


(UK, 2015)

There is a big dishonesty in this film that I have to point out first. Meryl Streep is featured prominently in the poster and the advertising. And she is in the picture, playing the formidable Emmeline Pankhurst. But she is there for only one scene! She delivers a speech from a balcony, speaks briefly to Carey Mulligan as she gets in a car, and then she is gone. This didn’t sit very well with me.

Okay, the film is earnest and seems to be historically accurate. I know a little about the suffrage movement in England (and a dismal, awful story it is) from watching an excellent six-part (75 minutes each) 1974 BBC series titled Shoulder to Shoulder. It went into great detail about the movement, and especially the Pankhurst family, Emmeline and her daughters Christabel, Adela, and Sylvia. That series explored the story from the top down, as the Pankhursts were rich. This takes it from the bottom up. Carey Mulligan works in a laundry and has never had a thought about getting the vote until she is gradually radicalized by Helena Bonham Carter. It’s a good story, which will make you angry and probably teach you something, but it’s all rather routine. I’ve already forgotten most of the plot.