Suffragette is an exhausting but engrossing and often moving film which explores the battle of English women to gain their right to vote.
Set in 1912-13, the movie centres on Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan), a young married woman from the East End of London who has worked since she was seven in a damp, dangerous laundry where injury, disease and sexual exploitation are rife.
Initially reluctant, Maud becomes more and more involved in the Suffragette movement and joins forces with women from all backgrounds, including Violet (Anne-Marie Duff), a fellow worker and Edith (Helena Bonham Carter), a local chemist who together with her husband operates a covert base for the suffragettes in the back room of their shop.
Though frightened by the risk it entails (Brendan Gleeson is very good as the police officer charged with stopping the women), Maud gradually begins to recognize that without the vote there’s little hope of a better future.
The film covers the violent actions some of the suffragettes undertook, the violence they suffered and the high personal price many paid.
Carey Mulligan is understandably being praised for her work in the movie, which also features Meryl Streep in a small role as Emily Pankhurst.
While difficult at times to watch, Suffragette does raise some interesting issues, such as does violence work in changing society’s views? The postscript detailing which countries granted the vote to women in what years makes for some fascinating reading.
Suffragette is showing in cinemas around Australia.