Hot Take: Suffragette is an empowering, sobering tale that applies the appropriate gravity necessary to the Women’s Right to Vote movement. It occasionally has the feel of a docudrama a substitute teacher would throw on for her grade school class to get through a rainy afternoon.
How much screen time did Meryl Streep get in her role as Emelinne Pankhurst in Suffragette? If it was more than 3 minutes, I’d be shocked. However, in our backward world, that might be enough to land Streep a supporting actress nod at the upcoming Oscars. While her 3 minutes were well done, it’s hard to justify the likely hat tip for her contribution to this empowering story.
Why so harsh on the potential recognition for Streep? Suffragette is full of strong supporting performances and a quality starring one by Carey Mulligan as Maud Watts. In support of Mulligan and more vital to the success of Suffragette are Helena Bonham Carter, Anne-Marie Duff and Natalie Press who all deliver powerful contributions.
By the last paragraph, you’d think I’d be following it with another on the potential of Suffragette as one of the best pictures of 2015. While the performances are strong, the movie itself lacks the depth and is steeped in formulaic storytelling which prevents itself from being anything more than a fairly mediocre telling of a powerful and important reminder of more recent history than most realize. While it’s importance will likely catapult Suffragette on to more than a few Year’s Best lists, it was good but not great.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Carey Mulligan
Mulligan is quietly putting together an impressive resume of under the radar films that haven’t made many waves at the box office but strike gold with critics. Mulligan’s cathartic performance is deserving of recognition and hopefully that means an Oscar nomination.
- The Suffragette Movement Deserves the Big Screen Treatment
Sometimes the topics chosen for biopics and docudramas are questionable. Did we really need two Steve Jobs movies? (The box office receipts say no, by the way.) Suffragette feels timely and appropriate.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- It’s a Little Clunky
Sometimes Suffragette suffers from pacing issues. It dwells at times for dramatic effect but doesn’t always deliver. There are plenty of swings for the fence at delivering some serious dramatic moments but, unfortunately, there are a few misses.
- I Smell Oscar Bait
This film reeks of shameless attempts to land on the Oscar ballot.