SUFFRAGETTE, doesn't have much to show for her life: a poorly-paid job in a laundry, a semi-caring husband, and a child she adores. That she will lose all of this, and that the loss will be of her own doing because she is attempting to bring fairness and justice to herself and to the women of her day (the film is set in the early 1900s) brings to mind a word we've seldom heard of late and seen put into action even less. That word is sacrifice, and although the film, as best I can recall, never uses this term, the act itself is everywhere to be seen.
Abi Morgan (The Invisible Woman), shown at right, and directed by Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane), shown below, this is bone-deep and not-at-all-pretty feminist history. For starters, the two filmmakers do not use their "suffragettes" -- the British women who worked tirelessly to help gain women the right to vote --as we usually see them: figures meant for mostly comic (Hysteria) or romantic (Parade's End) purposes. Gavron and Morgan treat their suffragettes seriously; consequently, so do we.
Everything about this film --except the great energy
Fiona Weir, have done a superlative job of finding the right actors and then letting them do their stuff. The result is one of the finest films of the year, and one that, though it makes few concessions to the current need for feel-good-above-all, I suspect will be remembered come awards time.
Carey Mulligan (above with Ben Whishaw, who plays her husband), again does a bang-up job of drawing us in and making us understand her character's sometimes awful choices. As her friend and the woman who brings her into the movement, Anne-Marie Duff (below, left), as she often does, all but steals the movie with her wide-open, compelling eyes and great spirit.
Focus Features and running 106 minutes, while continuing its run in New York and elsewhere, opens all over South Florida this Friday, November 6.