Mary Poppins is probably the only other time I remember seeing a suffragette as a character in a film. Mrs. Banks had a sash and a song and it all seemed quite jolly. It is about time then that we got a decent film focussing on the struggles of the suffragettes and here’s Carey Mulligan giving it a try.
Directed by Sarah Gavron and written by Abi Morgan, Suffragette closely follows the story of Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan) as she becomes awakened by and involved in the Suffragette movement. After joining a small gang in London’s East End – we’ve all been there – she is forced to decide if she is willing to sacrifice her home, family, and job for the fight to get women the vote. Her motley crew is led by the educated Edith Ellyn (Helena Bonham Carter) and the group as a whole looks up to the almost mythical Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep).
Streep is featured heavily in the promotional campaign for the film but, while her presence is often teased, she only makes an appearance in one scene to deliver a rousing speech and secure a few Supporting Actress nominations. Having Streep in the role is quite apt though as the buzz of excitement around even the possibility of seeing Pankhurst speak matches that of the press scuttling off to the Suffragette press conference after the screening.
The focus of the film is not on the high-profile historical figures played by the likes of Streep and Carter but rather on Mulligan whose face is rarely out of close-up throughout the film. I couldn’t tell you much about the setting of many of the scenes but I can tell you how Carey’s face looked at any given moment. Mulligan is undoubtedly a skilled actor, giving her best East End accent, but I struggled to connect with her character emotionally. Perhaps it was something about the script; every conversation in the film related to the issue at hand leaving no real room for any characters to be developed beyond their stance on votes for women, a topic on which no grey area was allowed. I’m not saying that votes for women is a grey area just that no character was allowed to doubt their opinion in either direction. No minds were changed and no characters had arcs.
As Mulligan’s Maud got involved in the movement the film introduced various characters whose involvement and sacrifices seemed that much greater. It left me with the feeling that we had been following the wrong woman and were only seeing half the story of the suffragettes. If we were supposed to use Maud as a proxy for the audience it might have helped to turn the camera away from her face and towards what she was experiencing.
At last year’s festival I finished The Imitation Game wanting a better film to honour Alan Turing and with Suffragette I felt the same. The suffragettes deserve a better film than this to show the world what they were fighting for. From the moment the film starts the slow fades between text cards setting the scene imply a sense of importance but the story it then tells lacks the emotional connection and scope that is needed to really drive the message home.
The film is perfectly OK and might get some buzz in the short-term but I expect it to languish on ITV on a rainy Sunday afternoon in years to come.
Suffragette opens the Film Festival tonight and screens again tomorrow. Some tickets are still available online. Suffragette then opens in UK cinemas on 12 October 2015.
While the younger cast of the Harry Potter series may well have been works in progress, the adult roles were filled with pretty much every working actor in Britain with a familiar face. It was these actors who initially kept us coming back for more, without whom we may never have learnt to love the boy wizard and his chums. Below we run through our top fifteen of the adult performances across the eight films in alphabetical order. We tried to whittle it down with no success.
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
We start with an actor whose performance has ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous, and often in the same film. As Harry’s most consistent antagonist Snape offered up an ambiguous character, often seeming to be more evil that he was. What makes Rickman’s performance legendary are his epic pauses and dangerously slow delivery, as if trying to get as much screen time as his brief dialogue will allow. In the final film Rickman delivers both his slowest speech and his most moving performance. There are few better in this list.
David Bradley as Argus Filch
It’s hard to believe that in the earlier films the major danger was being caught out of bed by Filch, a far cry from the fantastical battles the franchise concludes with. While often a menace to our heroes, Filch was ultimately a fun character bringing two of the biggest laughs in the finale and a warm nostalgic feeling with them.
For the past three hours I have actively avoided writing this review, struggling to stay objective and discuss the film as if it were any other. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 could have been just another children’s fantasy adventure, yet another sequel and an adaptation of a previous work, but subjective sentiment and a decade of fandom aside, this is one hell of a film.
It’s the new biggest surprise of the festival. The King’s Speech is at first sight another stuffy period piece looking at a period of English history while in reality it is a touching and, most importantly, fun film with some soon to be award winning performances.
When did Colin Firth become so good? Firth, Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush are all great in their roles, bringing a bit of humanity to historical figures. Timothy Spall, Guy Pearce and Michael Gambon aren’t too shabby either, and Ramona Marquez from Outnumbered pops up as a young Princess Margaret.
At the press conference following the screening director Tom Hooper described the historical story of abdication and war as the “A plot” and the relationship between Firth and Rush as the Duke/King underwent speech therapy as the “B plot” but I disagree. What sold the film was their sessions together and the fun the two actors had with it. I’ve never heard people laugh so hard at a period piece before.
That’s it really, the film is very good and more fun than you’d expect.
Here are some photos from the press conference which you can watch here:
The King’s Speech is on general release on 7th January 2010.
Yes this is a little late but Mild Concern doesn’t have the benefit of press screenings and as Alice is still top of the UK box office this is still relevant, totally. I’m afraid what follows is another positive review, damn my good viewing judgement!
I chose to see the film in 2D so I could focus on the film without weird, slightly off images and tired eyes and I’m glad I did. Tim Burton is well known for his stunning and unique visuals and Alice does not disappoint, the beautiful imagery did not need 3D to make it sumptuous and entrancing. Such a good looking film requires big words.
Admittedly I was worried at the start as the “real world” was suitably dull and shot in standard fashion, all the better for highlight the wonders of so called Underland. It turns out Alice was mistaken about the name in her previous visit and this is her second time down under. Alice does feature quite a few familiar events but the story quickly veers off from the classic Disney plot to have Alice destined to destroy the Jabberwock giving a more satisfying conclusion to her time in Underland.
Mia Wasikowska does an admirable job carrying this film from start to finish though in her scenes at the very start and finish she seems to put all her effort into the accent rather than the acting. Johnny Depp is as good as expected portraying a truly disturbed hatter, though it was odd to hear him share scenes with Barbara Windsor’s Dormouse.
Other performance highlights included Matt Lucas’ charming Tweedledee and Tweedledum and Stephen Fry’s purring Cheshire Cat. Anne Hathaway continues her journey towards being an actress I actually like, though black lipstick on her huge lips is a bit horrifying. It’s a real shame that amongst all these great character performances Helena Bonham Carter has chosen to completely steal Miranda Richardson’s performance from Blackadder. it works well but is a little lazy.
Alice is a good looking and enjoyable journey and it was a relief to see a fantasy film made by a company that can afford to do it properly after so many Sci-Fi Channel original movies. Real actors were distorted in all sorts of ways and blended seamlessly with the computer generated scenery and charaters. Sadly the film’s destination was a little bit of a let down as after the final showdown it ended with a bit of a whimper.
It is a children’s film after all so not particularly challenging but enjoyable and nice to look at all the same.