Suffragette: A superbly written, emotional, heartbreaking thriller

Posted on 16 October 2015
By Gemma Yates
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Sacrifice and violence, Suffragette reveals the stark reality for working class women who decided they had a voice.

It’s release was held in anticipation as the first film in history to be shot in the Houses of Parliament and a star studded cast and the result didn’t disappoint. We were looking for the big name characters, Pankhurst, Davidson, of the early suffrage movement but the approach to tell the story of ordinary east end women was genius. Now everyone thought, this could of been me.

The emotional intensity of the film peaked and fell in all the right moments by Maud Watts’ (Carey Mulligan) harrowing story. At every moment you couldn’t quite believe what was happening.

The director Sarah Gavron skilfully made us feel the gruelling daily routine of a working class women. In the dirty scenes of a laundry service Maud Watts and the women of Bethnal Green work long hours under the harassment of a perverted boss for a few pennies and some nasty wounds. Then steadily the story took us through Maud’s first few encounters with the votes for women campaigners.

At first reluctant, she then gets caught up in the group by her inquisitiveness. Build up to the moment where she testifies what life is like for women in the Landry industry to David Loyd George at an MPs committee.

She describes how her mother was brutally scalded in the same job, which makes her ponder whether life would be be the same for any daughter she might have. When the prime minister denies the voting reform she realises it always will. Now comes the change.

Although slow at times, as the turn of events gather momentum so does the boldness of Carey Mulligan’s character as she seeks change. As she becomes more involved in the women’s movement she has to sacrifice every part of her life as she knows it, a wife, worker and mother.

Some scenes were truly frightening. Carey Mulligan performed incredibly in a scene where she was forced fed as a political prisoner. You could imagine physically every inch of that torture. Meryl Streep’s performance as Emily Pankhurst may have been overly marketed in its release but the little time the character has on the screen is just the point.

The anticipation of finally seeing Pankhurst was perfectly met when the foot soldiers of the campaign got to see and hear their inspiration.

The cinematography convincingly displayed the bleak conditions of the east end. It was distinctively a different time to now but the use of colour made the imagination believe you were there.

The script superbly written by Abi Morgan, highlights the intrinsic link between the vote for women and rights for all whilst still giving prominence to the female characters.

As Watts’ husband (Ben Whishaw) also lives under the thumb of a demeaning boss and prejudice society. Sonny Watts, too embarrassed by his wife’s activities bows down to societies beckon and forces her out of their home. The working class struggle as a whole was also brought to the forefront of our minds.

The emotional intensity lingered long after the film ended by this heartbreaking thriller.

Rate: 3/5